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  CSPAN    U.S. Senate    News/Business.  

    July 28, 2011
    12:00 - 5:00pm EDT  

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senator from ohio. mr. brown: i ask the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: i first, madam president, want to thank senator rockefeller for his leadership on the f.a.a. issue. it's so important in rural areas. it's so important for a work to retain and train a work force. it's so important for airline service generally, in cities as large as cleveland, cincinnati and columbus airports and in smaller communities where this matter is -- senator rockefeller said, it absolutely matters for economic development. and people in big cities might make fun of small airports, that they don't have all the -- all the hustle and bustle, but we do know that medium sized and smaller airports matter a great deal. with the refusal of the house to take up a clean extension of
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f.a.a., more than 4,000 employees have been furloughed, dozens of construction projects have come to a halt. in this economy, for some radicals in the house of representatives to decide because they have got a political mission and an ideology that doesn't quite fit with the majority of americans, they are going to again hold hostage something that just simply needs to be done, and that is what's called reauthorization of f.a.a. this many employees have been furloughed for who knows how long. senator rockefeller said some may look elsewhere for jobs. these are very skilled technicians and engineers and others. and what it means to these construction projects. f.a.a. helps to pay all over the country for modernization of airports, and we have all heard stories. i don't recall that i have ever seen it, but we have all heard stories of the beijing or the shanghai airport or some of these airports, i have not seen them in the last many years, the
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technology and the modern features of those airports. we have got to keep up, and this is the exactly wrong thing to do. the unemployment rate in the construction industry is more than double the national average. yet we're idling cranes and we're idling bulldozers all because of a political mission in ideology that some members of the house, some radical members of the house have decided to inflict on us. the clean extension of f.a.a. has been done 20 times. all of a sudden it isn't. i hope the house gets serious. i hope the appointees -- i hope they appoint conferees and come to the table and then work this out. and i appreciate very much senator rockefeller's leadership in this. he has -- he is making a difference on this, but i -- our house colleagues need to follow. madam president, i ask for a division on these remarks versus the next in the "congressional record." the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: thank you. i want to talk also about another issue where we should have just done a clean extension as we have done hundreds -- i'm
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sorry, not hundreds, dozens of times in this country. the past three decades alone, we have avoided default by addressing the debt limit 38 times. 34 of those were with republican presidents. that's almost 90% of the time we have raise the debt ceiling, more precisely avoided default. it's been under republican presidents. a lot of us didn't like it. we maybe made a public statement saying we didn't like their fiscal policy, but we never stood in the way, we never tried to take hostage, take the government hostage or each other hostage by saying almost like children if i don't get my way then i'm going to block this and i'm going to stop -- i'm going to potentially throw our financial system and our economy into turmoil. what kind of behavior is that for adults? and then when i hear speaker boehner and some of his radical kind of cheerleaders on the far
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political right say that we should do this again in six months, i just wonder what are they possibly thinking, that when we go through this right now -- i hear -- i spend a lot of time, madam president, with manufacturers around my state. i love seeing things made. my state is the third largest manufacturing state in the country, exceeded in production only by california, three times our population, and texas, twice our population. i talk to manufacturers. some of them aren't investing now for a variety of reasons. mostly, they don't see the demand for products because the demand is still anemic in our society, in our economy for people to -- companies to grow, but they also talk about the uncertainty if we don't move forward. they talk about the uncertainty in the economic environment. well, this is the worst kind of uncertainty we're going to inject into our economy if we're going to say let's do this in
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six months. if you think -- madam president, do you think anybody in north carolina or ohio or around the state -- or around the country, any businesses are thinking there is a great time to invest, right when moody's and standard and poor's might downgrade us, right when we don't know what's going to happen in the next week with a potential default? do you think anybody really is going to make a major investment decision right now? of course they're not. so let's do it again in six months. i mean, that -- i -- i just can't -- when i heard speaker boehner -- and i -- i like john boehner personally. he is from my state. we do some things. our offices obviously work together in places like butler county and the dayton and cincinnati areas. but i would have thought people would have laughed when he said let's do this again in six months because we don't have a jobs problem to worry about it. clearly, we should get this done with and focus -- that means cutting the budget. i understand that. we have got to work toward a balanced budget balanced budget. in the early 1990's, president clinton -- i came to the house the year he was elected
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president. we faced a terrible budget situation and an unemployment situation. but you know what? we -- we cut spending. we increased taxes for -- appreciably for only a relatively few number of people, the wealthiest people in our society. we continued to make investments in education, health care and infrastructure and our economy. we had eight -- almost eight years -- not quite. maybe seven years and some months of regular economic growth and 21 million new jobs were created. so we know how to do this, but this crowd that wants to hold the government hostage, saying if we don't -- if you don't do it exactly our way, we're going to let the government go into default, and once we solve that, let's do it again in six months. i -- i just think, madam president, it doesn't make sense. one of the -- what we should be doing instead is really
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focusing -- and i know what an important manufacturing state the presiding officer represents in north carolina, as in ohio, and, you know, the focus offer manufacturing, that we're still a country that makes things. my state is particularly a state that makes things. my state in 2000 -- the year after the -- what's called the american recovery act passed, my state got more new jobs and clean energy than any state in the united states of america. my state is a leader in aerospace. it's a leader in auto and steel and chemicals and cement and paper and aluminum and glass. yet, we're also in the kind of traditional industries. yet we're also a leader in solar, in toledo, ohio, and other places. we're a leader in wind turbine component manufacturing, especially in northeast but all over ohio. we're a leader in aerospace, as i mentioned. we're a leader in biomedical and biotech, in large part because we have great universities and
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great teaching hospitals. really, i was going to say probably in northeast ohio but also columbus, also cincinnati, also dayton, also toledo, all over our state. so clearly, madam president, we know how to do these things, but what we have seen in the past three decades is -- is a shift in our nation. 30 years ago, manufacturing was 26%, 25%, 26%, 27% of our gross domestic product. so basically 1/4 of the dollars in our economy were all about manufacturing. and that created great wealth because the way to create wealth is to make something, to grow something or to mine something, pre-eminently. so 30 years ago, we were -- we were -- the manufacturing was, was some 23%, 24%, 25%, 26% of our g.d.p. financial services was only 11% in those taste. today it's almost in the reverse. today financial services makes up about 25%, 22%, and
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manufacturing makes up only about 11% of our -- of our g.d.p. and even a slightly smaller percent of our work force. so why does this matter? it matters because we know when we make things, it creates wealth. manufacturing jobs pay 20% more on average than service jobs. we know the difference between retail versus making steel or the difference between fast food restaurant work versus making cars or chemicals or glass or biotech. we know that manufacturing jobs have strong multiplier effects so if you have got an auto company, if you have got -- let me give an example. the chevy cruze is a car that my daughter just bought one. it's by and large an ohio car. it wouldn't have happened if we hadn't done the auto rescue that so many of my colleagues opposed, not ideological reasons, not substantive, practical, let's make it work
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reasons. nonetheless, we know the auto industry is coming back and we know manufacturing jobs have increased. far too anemiccally, but they have increased over the last year. but the chevy cruze, the engine is made in defiance, ohio, the bumper is made in northwood, ohio, the transmission is made in toledo, ohio, and the steel comes out of cleveland, ohio, for much of the car. the aluminum wheels come also out of cleveland, ohio. the stamping is done in parma, ohio. some of the other stamping is done in lordstown, ohio. 5,000 people working just on the assembly alone. that's the multiplier effect. when you assemble in toledo, you assemble the jeep. chrysler assembles the jeep in toledo. three years ago, only 50% of the components for the jeep were american made. today, over 70% of the components for the jeep are american made. so we know that manufacturing creates all kind of jobs, making 20% more on average than service
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jobs. since the beginning of the recession, though, we still see profits at large financial institutions and other service firms increase, but our nation's unemployment rate is still hovering around 9%. so when profits go up for these financial services firms -- and i appreciate j.p. morgan chase in columbus, ohio. i met with their -- their top person in ohio just this week, just moving from cleveland to columbus. i know the important work they do in my state. i know they provide thousands and thousands and thousands of jobs. that's all a good thing. but i also know an economy which is not paying attention to manufacturing, you don't get the multiplier effects, you don't get the higher wages, you don't get the employment growth that you might get otherwise. that's why when senator rockefeller yesterday and i convened a meeting where senator whitehouse, senator jack reed, senator schumer and klobuchar and feinstein and others attended, we talked about a real
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national manufacturing strategy. that means closing the skills gap. we have a lot of jobs in places like iowa and north carolina, ohio where they go unfilled because we haven't -- we haven't well enough -- we haven't well enough connected workers -- worker training with those -- with those jobs, with the needs. we need to pursue better tax and trade policies. we need to pay special attention to manufacturing. madam president, as we -- as we -- yesterday, this house of representatives and the senate and the senate will send to the house passed legislation unanimously that said when the government buys american flags, rather than 50% -- the requirement that 50% of them be made in the u.s., the requirement now is that 100% be made in the u.s. why don't we do that? why don't we put more focus on made in the u.s.a. it matters for us. it matters for our national pride on flags, to be sure, but it matters for our communities, it matters for our companies, it matters for our workers. madam president, i yield the floor.
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and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. harkin: i ask further proceedings under the quorum equal be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. harkin: i ask that kevin paulson be granted floor privileges during today's proceedings. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. harkin: i meant to be here when i know senator rockefeller was on the floor speaking about the situation with the federal aviation administration. however, i was unavoidably detained because i was chairing a meeting on the help committee
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that adjourned just a few minutes ago. i wanted to be here to discuss with senator rockefeller the sad situation we're facing right now with the shutdown of the federal aviation administration. we're now in the sixth day, sixth day of the defunding of the federal aviation administration. and what that means is that i think right now we have some 4,000 f.a.a. workers are furloughed, tens of thousands of people are out of work in airport construction -- got it -- construction jobs, infrastructure and these are people that are not working for the government. they're working for private contractors who have a contract with the f.a.a. for runway construction, putting in lights, safety measures, things like that. so tens of thousands of people are out of work in the private sector because of the cut-off of
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f.a.a. reimbursements to these businesses around the country. it's costing the federal government about $25 million in tax revenue a day. a day. a day. $25 million a day in lost tax revenue. that money -- that money would be plowed back into the economy to pay for aviation operations and for the people who are working out there on construction jobs in building new runways and lighting systems and things like that. so at the time when -- here we got so many people unemployed in our country, the unemployment rate really is about -- somewhere between 16% and 18%, it's not 9%. closer to 18%. over 23 million people in america out of work. so what do the republicans do?
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they hold up funding for the federal aviation administration which puts 4,000 more f.a.a. people furloughed and as i said, tens of thousands of people working on construction jobs around the country out of work. now, why -- why would the republican members of this congress do such a thing? why? because they want to overturn a national mediation board decision that was handed down a little over a year ago to align the election procedures under the national railway labor act with the provisions that have always been in place under the national labor relations act.
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let me explain that. under the national labor relations act that's been in existence since the late 1930s , if you have a -- an election to see whether or not workers want to organize a union or not, you count the yeas and you count the nays. of those that vote. if the yeas are more than the nays, workers form a union. if the nays are more than the yeas, they don't form a union. under the national railway labor act for years, an odd thing took place. under that, it said that if have you an election for a union, you count the yeas, you
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count the nays. and then of all those people who didn't vote, you put them in the nay column. interesting. if you don't vote, you're an automatic no. so what the national mediation board did a little over a year ago, they realigned this and they said that from now on, under the rule making procedures they said that from now on, you would only count the yeas and the nays. and you would not assign to one side or the other those who didn't vote. now, to most of us that just seems to make plain old common sense. after all, any school board election in your local school board elections, we know that the outcome is pretty low, school board elections usually turn out maybe, what, 20% of
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the electorate if that, maybe less than that. yet i submit there's probably no more important elections in america today than school board elections, but i won't get into that right now. so what if we said in all the school board elections take the yeas and then all these people that didn't vote, they're in noes. or what if we did that in -- what if we did that in senate races? how about taking a senate race? that kind of strikes home to people around here. let's say a senator is running for re-election. let's say we have the turnout, we have -- if you're lucky you get a 60% turnout of voters. so that means that people who don't vote, vote no on the incumbent? is that what we want to see? if you don't vote, that means
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it's a no vote on your re-election. well, most people would think that's inherently unfair. and it is hirntly unfair. -- inherently unfair. the same thing is in elections, whether workers want to form a union or not. there's a lot of reasons people don't vote in any election. you know, maybe they're sick or they're ill, they don't vote. maybe they can't make up their mind one way or the other. i see that side and i can't make up my mind, i'm just not going to vote. and some people say i don't care which side wins. i'm disinterested in this election. and thankfully in america we don't have somebody forcing somebody to vote. so it makes common sense if you don't vote, you shouldn't be
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counted on one side or the other. so, the national mediation board put this rule in place, they went through all the hearings, comment period, did all the stuff necessary to pass a rule, and then we -- it was brought up here in the senate last -- within the last year, it was brought up here in the senate under a procedure called the congressional review act, if i'm not mistaken. wherein there is an expedited procedure for the senate to take up and vote on a regulation as to whether or not we want to overturn it or not. it's an expedited procedure, an up-or-down vote, and so that was brought up here and as the chairman of the committee that
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has jurisdiction over labor, i debated it with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, it was a fairly good debate, i thought, and we voted. and the senate voted not to overturn that regulation. well, you'd think that would be the end of it, okay? no, you'd be wrong. what's that got to do with the f.a.a.? because the republicans this the house -- and some in the senate -- are saying that they are not going to let this f.a.a. re-authorization bill get through unless and until we overturn the decision, this rule of the national mediation board. which basically says if you don't vote in this election, you're not counted on one side or the other. they're holding the f.a.a.
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hostage, 4,000 workers furloughed, tens of thousands in airport construction out of work, $25 million a day being lost in revenue that would be taken in so that we could put these people back to work. all because they want -- they want to make it harder for workers to form a union. think about it this way -- we're going to have a presidential election next year. let's say all the people who don't vote would be tallied as a no vote for the incumbent president, assuming he runs for re-election. now, some of my republican friends would probably like that. i understand that. but do you think the american people would think that's fair? that if you don't vote, you're counted as a no vote?
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a federal district court, they've taken this to court has always rejected a legal challenge to these new rules finding the agency, the national mediation board was acting well wimg within its legal authority in modernizing the elections systems. we see this time and time again, this happening now in this congress. whenever we try to make things more fair or to use a legitimate procedure to address something that i think most people would think would be unfair, that is, counting no votes -- or counting someone who didn't vote as a no vote, whenever we do that, the republicans always try to find an end run, some way to undo that. i don't know why it is that --
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we're down to, what, less than 10% of our labor force is now unionized. to my friends on the other side of the aisle they will not be happy until there are no more unions in america. they will not be happy until unionization is less than 1%. and then only a company-sponsored union, not an independent union. we saw the same thing right now, republicans are voting to change the law in the middle of a trial as a special favor to the boeing company. boeing was accused of retaliating against workers for going on strike. as i have pointed out in numerous talks on the floor here, that there is a process, a judicial process that has been used both by labor and management for the last 60-some
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years to settle disputes, to settle disputes. and that process has been to go to the nlrb, businesses have done this as well as -- management has done this as well as labor, to ask the nlrb to find that a certain thing was wrong or that the union has overstepped their bounds, union came in, said management overstepped their bounds. the nlrb looks at it and tries to mediate and get the two sides to agree. but, if they can't, a process is set in motion whereby the general counsel -- who by the way, was a career person, not a political appointee as some have said -- then begins an investigation to see whether or not the facts as presented warrant the next step, and that is going to an administrative law judge.
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that's what's happened in this boeing case. now, i've heard all this nonsense about they're trying to take jobs out of south carolina, they're trying to destroy right to work states. that's nonsense. all it is going to an administrative law judge with fact finding to see whether or not boeing actually retaliated against its employees for their exercising a legal right. their legal right being the right to organize and bargain collectively as a union. did boeing retaliate against them for doing that? i don't know. my republican friends seem to think they know. but it should go through the process of the administrative law judge, that finding can be appealed by either side, management or labor, goes to the nlrb, they make a
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decision, that can be appealed to the appeals court, federal appeals court, circuit court. that decision can be appealed to the supreme court. yet the republicans want to interfere in that process and make it a political decision, a political decision as to whether or not this case should go forward. well, just as they are wrong to try to change the rules in the middle of a case going forward to benefit boeing, what's happening now is also wrong in what they are trying to do to interfere in the reauthorization of the federal aviation administration to skew, to change the rule by the national mediation board. one of my colleagues the other day was talking about when are we going to stop doing favors to the union bosses or to big
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unions or something like that? i -- i never thought that the national mediation board was a favor to a union. i always looked upon it as a fair decision, regulation to make it in line with the national labor relations act. why should we have two separate kinds of election procedures for forming a union in this country? i think most people would say just common sense. should someone who doesn't vote be counted as a no vote? as i said, we don't do that in the national labor relations act. so we have always had this kind of anomaly for years. we finally tried to get it straightened out. that's what's costing us, that's what's costing us these jobs and
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and $25 million a day. now, there's another issue that they have brought up, and that's the -- the essential air service , the number of small airports. we could debate that. we could talk about that. essential air service to small airports. to eliminate it, the bill would eliminate, it's about about $16 million a year, year, $16 million a year that it would save. yet, every week, every week, every week that they hold up the f.a.a. reauthorization, it's costing the federal government some $150 million a week in uncollected taxes to support our airports. so in order to save $16 million a year, they're willing to cost the government $150 million a
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week. boy, that -- that's some kind of economics on the part of my republican friends. so strictly from a budget perspective, the house's obstructionism is not just absurd, it's grossly counterproductive. so again, madam president, this is a -- this is really again uncalled for what they are doing to hold up the f.a.a. reauthorization. as i said, we're now going to the sixth day, and it's going to have an effect on air travel. it hasn't yet. it hasn't yet, but it is going to have a profound effect on air travel the longer this plays out. so i ask the house republican leadership to get off of this obstructionism, get off of this, and let's deal forthrightly on
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the bill before us which is the f.a.a. reauthorization and quit trying to overturn this rule of the national mediation board. and on essential air service, i think there is probably some compromises that can be made. there are some adjustments in modifications that can be made. i think that's probably so, and that we ought to work in -- i think in goodwill towards doing that on a longer -- on the longer term bill. but it's not right to fold up the f.a.a. reauthorization right now on either the essential air service objections or they're trying to overturn the decision of the national mediation board. again, madam president, i want to thank senator rockefeller for his leadership on this issue and for his vigorous opposition to
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the house republicans' effort, both to eliminate totally essential air service and to try to do a back door, an end run around the national mediation board's decision or rule on providing for fair elections for those who seek to belong and to form a union in the airline or railway industry. and with that, madam president, i yield the floor. a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. mrs. shaheen: let me again by applauding senator harkin, my colleague from iowa, for his comments relative to the f.a.a. and the need to put the people who are out of work back to work and to get the f.a.a.
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reauthorization done. it's been way too long. we have a number of people who staff the tower that deals with air traffic coming into the united states north of boston. that tower's in new hampshire. we have people out of work. we need to get them back to work, and we need to see this legislation done and moving forward. madam president, i have 11 unanimous consent requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and minority leaders, and i ask unanimous consent that these requests be agreed to and that these requests be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. shaheen: thank you, madam president. i came to the floor this afternoon because the united states government is now less than a week away from defaulting on its obligations for the first time in our history. as we've heard from economists
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and business leaders across the country, a default could result in hundreds of thousands of lost jobs and in higher interest rates for every american, and yet, we are still debating whether or not we should avoid default. it is a very dangerous game, and we are risking permanent harm to the american economy. i want to just examine one consequence of default for a minute. all three credit rating agencies -- s&p 500, moody's and fitch -- have said that a default would automatically result in a lower credit rating for the u.s. government. and i think we all understand the principle of credit rating. it's like the credit scores on record for most of us in our personal lives. the better we have been about paying our debts in the past, the better our credit score. when we go to buy a house or a
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car, when we ask for a loan, the bank looks at that credit score and decides how much interest to charge us. the worst we have been at paying our debts in the past -- the worse we have been at paying our debts in the past, the lower our score and the more money we pay in interest. well, the credit rating agencies are keeping a credit score on the united states government. so far, it's been perfect. the u.s. has never failed to pay our debts. that's why we have the lowest interest rates in the world and loaning money to the u.s. government is considered the world's safest investment. with the default, that would all change. and here's the key. it would change in just minutes, and that change would last for generations. if we default, the credit rating agencies will lower our credit rating immediately. i recently had a conversation with martin regalia, the chief economist of the u.s. chamber of
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commerce. in that conversation, he said that the market reaction to a default would take nanoseconds. once we have defaulted, we can never unring that bell. our special status as the world's safest investment may never return. we will have increased our interest rates for decades to come and maybe even longer. j.p. morgan chase said this week that a lower credit rating could cost our government $100 billion a year in interest. and this is the worst kind of wasteful spending because that money wouldn't be going to investments in our economy or to secure a better future for our children. it would go to nothing. it would do nothing. it would just be money down the drain. now, we have a path forward. it's the plan that's recently been proposed by senator reid. there are a lot of things about this plan that i don't like. i'm concerned because i don't
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think it takes a balanced approach toward deficit reduction that i have long called for, and i'm disappointed that it lacks the $4 trillion in deficit reduction that we need, but i'm ready to support it. and because all of the cuts in this bill are cuts that republicans have already supported, they should be prepared to support this plan, too. the reid plan would cut at least least $2 trillion off of our debt while allowing us to avoid default in the next year. these two elements are crucial to avoid the lower credit rating that we have been hearing concerns raised about. we need to provide the markets with some long-term certainty that will avoid default, some proof that we can deal seriously with our long-term deficits and debt. a short-term six-month increase,
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as proposed in the house, would just kick the can down the road. it won't prevent a lower credit rating. we need to end this constant threat of default which is paralyzing our government and our economy. the reid plan achieves this through a combination of cuts to our domestic spending, reduced spending on the wars in afghanistan and iraq and through targeted cuts to mandatory spending. it doesn't raise taxes and it doesn't touch medicare, medicaid or social security. again, this is not a perfect plan. i have been on the floor many times in favor of a balanced package that includes cuts to spending, domestic, defense and mandatory, but also includes increased revenues. the reid princess plan doesn't e
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those goals -- the reid plan doesn't achieve those goals but i hope we will get there eventually. this is not a proposal i would have written, but i'm one of more than 100 members of the senate and more than 535 members of congress, and i don't get everything i want. none of us here in congress get everything we want. that's the nature of compromise. that's the nature of democracy, and that's why the framers of the constitution created checks and balances in government. that's why they created two chambers in congress and three branches of government, and when you're a leader in government, you just don't have the luxury of drawing a line in the sand and walking away. you've got to be prepared to stay the -- at the table and to give something up. i have just laid out what i and i believe many of my colleagues are willing to give up in this proposal. our demand for a comprehensive, balanced plan to reduce the
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deficit. in exchange, i'm willing to accept a plan that includes more cuts than any other plan on the table, and these are cuts that 40 of our colleagues on the other side of the aisle have already supported. this is a plan that i think neither side is going to love but both sides should be able to accept. it's a plan that gets the job done. now, we here in the senate and in congress have to get the job done, so i urge that we come to the table, we adopt a compromise and we put this debt ceiling vote behind us. thank you very much, madam president. mr. reid: madam president. the presiding officer: the
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majority leader. mr. reid: we are not in a quorum call? the presiding officer: correct. mr. reid: that's a rare occasion. mr. president, today the house of representatives will vote on speaker boehner's short-term plan to raise the debt ceiling. as soon as the house completes its vote tonight or this afternoon, the senate will move to take up that message that they send to us. it will be defeated. they know that. the american people now should understand that clearly. no democrat will vote for a short-term band-aid approach that will put our economy at risk and put the nation back in the untenable situation that we are in today just a few short months from now. economists have said that a short-term arrangement holds many of the same risks as a technical default. democrats are not willing to put our economy on the line on something like that. it's just something we cannot do for the good of the country. our economy and the financial markets desperately need stability. speaker boehner's bill does not
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provide either. it does not provide stability and it certainly doesn't help our economy in any way. so i believe, madam president, it's time for the tea party republicans to stop resisting compromise. they must join democrats and republicans of goodwill to put the economy ahead of politics. mr. schumer: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from new york. mr. schumer: thank you, madam president. i would just like to underscore what the leader has said. speaker boehner is busy twisting arms right now to try and get his bill passed through the house. but -- but it's a futile gesture because that bill is not going to pass the senate. we have made that clear in the letter that 53 of us signed yesterday and nothing has changed. the idea that we will take boehner's bill and pass it or take boehner's bill and tweak it
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and pass it is not what is going to happen. and so we would urge speaker boehner and all of our republican colleagues to sit down and negotiate. throwing a hot potato over to us that won't pass just delays things a day and we are simply four days away from one of the worst financial catastrophes that could face this country. namely, for the first time in our 230-year history, a refusal to pay the debt. and that means that the time for these kinds of political games and political posturing is over. speaker boehner's having a rough time getting the votes over here but my guess is he will. it won't make a darn bit of difference. it won't make a darn bit of difference because it's not going to pass this house, the senate. it will not pass because a
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short-term extension risks the same things that no extension risks: a downgrade, a lack of confidence in the markets and gridlock. we've seen gridlock up to now. three, four, five, six months from now the same gridlock will occur. we cannot play with this kind of risky fire. so our plea to the speaker is stop continuing to throw pieces of red meat after red meat after red meat, piece after piece after piece of red meat to that right-wing lion in your caucus. start taming the lion. that's what you have to do, because otherwise that lion will devour you and devour the economy of our country. the kind of narrow ideological
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approach that we have seen in the house will not get us anywhere. and the shame of it all is thaty member of the house, and i don't believe the speaker, has that ideology, the sort of my way or no way ideology, the no-compromise ideology. and it's time to break free. it's time to do what's good for the country. a short-term solution will not work. the leader has just made it clear that as soon as the house passes its bill, it will be defeated here in the senate. let's not waste five, six, seven, eight more hours. let's start negotiating something that will save this country from potential financial catastrophe now. a senator: would the senator yield for a question? mr. schumer: be happy to yield to my friend from iowa.
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mr. harkin: i thank the senator from new york for his very lucid remarks and for his great leadership in trying to get -- get through this mess that we're in. you know, i say to my friend, a lot of people in -- in the country are looking and they're thinking that this is some kind of a food fight, somehow that we're both -- everybody's to blame for this here in washington. i ask my friend, the senator from new york, isn't it true that there are some 50 members of the republican caucus in the house who have said forthrightly that they will not vote to raise the debt ceiling under any circumstance? one of those, of course, being representative bachmann, who is seeking the presidential nomination on their sic ticket,d she would not vote to raise it under any circumstance, under any circumstance. does the senate know of any one democrat, either in the house or
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the senate, who has said they will not vote to raise the debt ceiling under any circumstance? i ask the senator, is there one? i have not been able to find one. mr. schumer: i thank my colleague from iowa for the question. i concur in his findings. i haven't found one either. democrats know -- we have differing views on this side of the aisle and many of us would write deficit-reduction bills differently than some others of us would, but we realize that to let the debt ceiling lapse would be a disaster, to not raise it. and so i have not, i have not heard of a single democrat who has said the debt ceiling ought to lapse. and i've heard scores of republicans, elected official republicans, and thousands of others and groups in that right-wing firm mean firmament g
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their members to let this debt ceiling lapse. my guess, is god, forbid, it happens, and we're doing everything we can to prevent it from happening, they will retract that language or they will find ways to explain what they really meant because their analysis that it doesn't matter or it won't do much harm is unfortunately dead wrong. happy to yield. mr. harkin: if the senator would yield for another question, again, there's a lot of misunderstanding and i can -- i sympathize with this among the general populous that somehow raising the debt ceiling means that somehow we can go and borrow more money in the future and go further in debt. isn't it true that raising the debt ceiling just simply means that we're going to pay for what so many of us, republicans and democrats, have voted in the past to appropriate money for? it's like using your credit card, i ask my friend from new
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york, isn't it, it's like using your credit card, you go out and buy something, and now you say, "but i don't want to pay the bill." i think that kind of puts it in terms that the average american can understand. if you've used your credit card and you've run up a debt, you've got to pay the bills. otherwise, your credit is going to go down and you're going to lose your credit card, you're not going to be able to do anything else. isn't that sort of what we're confronting here, is that -- is that republicans and democrats in the past -- we all share the blame, perhaps, for having deficits, and we can go into the causes of that. i don't mean to do that here. but the fact is, the united states of america has an obligation to pay its bills and the republicans say, no, they don't want to pay the bills. doesn't that sort of strike the average american as saying, wait a minute, no, we have to honor our debts? we have always honored our debts in this country since the
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revolutionary war, is that not the fact? mr. schumer: that is absolutely the fact. my colleague from iowa is exactly correct. bottom line is, yes, these -- what we're talking about with the debt ceiling is debts we've already incurred. no american family has the luxury, once they sign up for a mortgage, to tell the bank, "well, i'm not going to pay you unless you do a, b, c." no american family has the luxury of telling the credit card company, "hey, unless you buy me a year's supply of groceries, i'm not going to pay my credit card debt." once you incur the debt, you have an obligation to pay. that is one of the foundations of american life. it's been that foundation since alexander hamilton argued with thomas jefferson and it's served our country well. the awful example that it would set if america, this great land, this federal government said,
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well, i'm not going to pay the debt, we're not going to pay the debt unless a, b, c, d is done, what kind of example does that set to american families, to american young people? it's the opposite, frankly, of the conservative philosophy, part of which i agree with in this regard, that you pay your bills, that you pay your debts. and if you don't, you have a -- there's a consequence. so it is just amazing. this is the first time i believe -- and check the history books -- in america history where a large group in either house of this congress, has said, has made it a campaign not to pay the debt unless they get their way on certain other issues, whatever they be. and if every one of us did that, this country would be paralyzed, we wouldn't be able to do a
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thing. it is leading down a road that nobody should want to travel on. i yield. mr. harkin: i ask the senator -- i'd like to ask one more question then i will yield. isn't it -- isn't it true that we -- i'd say the senator from new york has been a leader in this and so many others here -- that, look, we want to, first of all, pay our bills but then we want to get our deficit under control and reduce our debt. and to that end, we have i think on the democratic side, i would say, we have tried to propose a balanced approach, a balanced approach, i ask my friend from new york, who's been a leader in this area, of both cutting spending and also raising revenue so that we're kind of all in this together. we're not -- we're asking everyone -- everyone -- we're not willing just to cut the deficit on the backs of the poor or people who are out of work,
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the elderly on medicare. we're saying everybody's got to take a little bit but we're also going to ask some sacrifice for those who have much in our society, that we want to raise some revenues from those who have benefited in the last 10, 15 years so much and have gotten so much wealth in our society, we're asking for them also to share in this. we have proposed that, have we not, i ask the senator? and has it not been true that the republican side has been unwilling to ask the richest people in our country to help -- help us reduce the deficit? they will not agree to any revenues, i ask my friend from new york, is that not the fact? mr. schumer: again, my colleague from iowa is on the money. there needs to be balance. the president has stressed this. i think everyone on our side has stressed this. we do have a serious deficit problem and a serious debt problem.
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we have to deal with it. i think there's agreement in this chamber. and i'll give some credit to those on the other side of the aisle who made this their signature issue in influencing policy. but if you're going to have to do that and do belt tightening, shouldn't it be across the board? and here's the fact of the matter. if you're a middle-class person, it's hard to pay for college, it's hard to pay for, say, prescription drugs, it's hard to take that paycheck and make sure it deals with all the needs that you and your spouse and your children have. and over the years, we've established ways that the government helps, with student loans or with prescription drug programs, other kinds of help. it so happens that the wealthy among us, god bless them, they don't need a student loan. they have plenty of money to pay for their children's college.
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they don't need a prescription drug plan. even with the high expense of these prescription drugs, they can afford it. god bless them. the way the wealthy benefit from the tax code, because they have a lot of money, is their tax expenditures, tax breaks that they get. they think they're important. i understand that. but they're no more important than helping young people go to college or helping our elderly average folks pay for their prescription drugs. and if you're going to be across the board and you're going to say, no revenues, you're going to have an unbalanced and unfair approach. and let me say this. our colleagues on the other side of the aisle have tried to scare people. this has not happened just this year but for many years. they say democrats want to raise your taxes. that is not the case if you are an average middle-class
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american. in fact, the president has made it a watchword and we have religiously concurred and followed, that no one who makes above -- below $250,000 a year should get any tax increase. that's 97% of all america. so when we say we want revenues, we're talking about two things. we're talking about tax breaks, tax look holes for the -- tax loopholes for the very wealthy, whether they be individuals or corporations, and we are talking about tax breaks for the wealthiest among us who under the previous administration got much greater breaks than anybody else. and that is all we are talking about. so i would ask my colleagues, i would ask the american people to understand that. don't be scared when somebody gets up and says, "they want to raise taxes" that it means your taxes. it doesn't unless, god bless you, you have a whole lot of
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money or you're a corporation with a very nice little break that may not be as necessary as, say, paying -- helping middle-class students go to college or helping the elderly get lifesaving prescription drugs. so there has to be balance. i know my good colleague from iowa who has spent his lifetime creating government programs that help people, it pains him when he hears there has to be spending cuts in those programs. but i have never heard him say if there are any spending cuts, i'm not going to vote for deficit reduction. but the mirror image on this side says i will vote for any bill if it even has one plug nickel of revenues, and that is not fair, that is not right, that is not balanced, and it is totally against what just about every american believes,
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including a majority of republicans. so that's why we're here making this fight. and i'd say one other thing in reference to my colleague's question. it is unfair when the commentators and the people say on the one hand the democrats are uncompromising and on the other hand the republicans aren't compromising. i understand that we should always not just look at our own position and try to understand somebody else's position. that's the way it works around here. otherwise we'd have a dictator. a benevolent dictator. we don't. but when we are willing to give on spending cuts, serious spending cuts that we don't like and the other side says they're not willing to give a nickel on revenues, it's not each side is failing to give. it's not that each side is compromising about equally. it's not that each side has
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walked about the same distance to come up with a compromise. in this case, it's not true every time -- they have been unwilling, my republican friends have been unwilling to compromise one jot, and we have been willing to do things very painful to us. so i would say to my friends who comment and write about this, be fair. let the public know who is willing to move away from their hard-line position for the sake of compromise, for the sake of renewing the debt ceiling, for the sake of getting our large debt and deficit down, and who has refused to budge. i think the answer is pretty obvious. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from colorado. a senator: thank you. i'd like to thank the senator from alaska for allowing me to
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jump ahead in the queue. i will have a few things to say at the end but i'm rising to talk about an issue that's actually separate. mr. bennet: i've been talking about the debt limit and the debt reduction negotiations but today i wanted to talk about another absurd and needless washington-inflicted -- what i can only think of as a mistake and that is the partial shutdown of the f.a.a. this shutdown while buried in the headlines, is affecting colorado jobs and the economy across the united states, mr. president. unable to walk and chew gum at the same time, congress' inability to resolve this impasse has caused the furloughing of thousands of workers nationwide and put at risk several very important summer construction projects at our airports in colorado. earlier this year, the senate worked together to pass a
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long-term f.a.a. re-authorization bill. this important bill which i supported will modernize our nation's air transportation system and reduce truck and costly delays. the american people would be astonished to learn how antiquated our system is right now. but the house and senate conference committee have been unable to finalize the bill. last friday, congress failed to pass a short-term authorization measure to buy negotiators more time and now certain f.a.a. functions have been shut down. this shutdown makes absolutely no sense to the people in colorado. who rely on this industry for their livelihoods, their business, and travel. i know the same is true in alaska. but it's more than that, mr. president. colorado has a short summer construction season, probably not as short as alaska's, but nevertheless short and many airports set aside the summer months to complete much-needed
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improvement projects. so this shutdown has come at the worst time for them. at the level of fort collins airport in colorado they are very near canceling an airport improvement project. officials should had canceled flights to accommodate a runway project. now they may be forced to shelf the project. at -- again, keep in mind this is about washington's dysfunction. there aren't big policy debates here. washington is turning its back on the rest of the country once again. at pueblo memorial airport officials have said they may be forced to delay a $12 million runway rebuilding project. at the durango airport, officials are concerned an ongoing $3 million apron rehabilitation project which currently employs 30 coloradans
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will receive a stop work order next week if congress fails to act and at the denver international airport, one of the crown jewels in this country, officials are concerned that the shutdown will affect scheduled concrete and asphalt work on a runway and maintenance on passenger loading bridges. these delays could affect the overall safety of colorado airports, and they are affecting jobs right now. nationwide, an estimated 3,500 f.a.a. workers began to be furloughed this past saturday. 276 these workers are in colorado, either sent home or forced to work without pay. to his great credit, chairman rockefeller has recently introduced legislation that would allow the f.a.a. to continue to pay those workers even during this shutdown. i've co-sponsored that legislation and hope the senate considers to do it today. but we need to do more than that. we've been asked to do more than the bare minimum by our constituents. you know, we've gotten to the point around here where just keeping the lights on somehow is a success.
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that's a pretty low bar. it's a low bar to heather hi dlnch gers of inglewood, colorado, she's an engineer. airports hire to meet f.a.a. safety standards. she wrote to my office, quote, next week if there is no one to reimburse the contractor, the job has to stop. the stall is affecting engineering contracts, the visible impact would be the construction contractors' jobs. andrew vogt of demp, colorado, is also an engineer. he wrote, quote, it's a truck experience that his whole industry has gone through. we are hoping a long-term solution, a long-term solution can be achieved in short order as a professional engineer certified construction manager for airport improvement projects, there is literally no work to do this year. put me back to work, he said. jeff campbell automatics of englewood, colorado --, these are not government employees,
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by the way,. we're talking about private sector employees whose jobs and expectations and salaries and plans for their families are being put on hold by the games that are being played here in washington. jeff campbell also of englewood, colorado is an aviation engineer who is involved with five projects that are being affected by the shutdown. one is the failing runway at fort collins. he said 150 people expecting to begin work next week are about to be put on hold and the project will have to be rebid for the third time. mr. president, a lot of people in congress talk about putting people back to work. they talk about fiscal responsibility. but this delay is costing thousands of jobs and an estimated $30 million a day in lost revenue. if this shutdown continues, these losses could dwarf the entire yearly budget. e.a.s. program which some claim
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is holding up the bill. congress must not allow our debate over the debt limit or the deficit to prevent action on a short-term f.a.a. extension. such inaction only proves once again to the american people how broken this place is. mr. president, it would be a terrible shame for members of congress to resolve this debt debate, adjourn and board their planes home for recess without resolving this issue. what a slap in the face. to people all across this country. and on behalf of our constituents who make a much more forceful case than i ever could, i implore my colleagues and members of the house to resolve this impasse and re-authorize the f.a.a. now. and with the indulgence of the senator from alaska, i just want to take the spunt opportunity to say a word or two about this debt limit discussion that we're having right now. you know, we face enormous challenges in our country right now.
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our economy is almost producing what it was producing before we went into this terrible recession. but we've got 14 million people that are unemployed. the great productive american economy has figured out how to produce what it was producing before with fewer people, but we haven't figured out how to put people back to work. my own view is that we need to look hard at our tax code, our regulatory code and other things to make sure we're inspiring innovation and job growth here in the united states, not just shipping it overseas and saying it too bad for everybody that's here. we are at the end of a decade when median family income has declined for the first time in our country's history. never happened before. the cost of health care has gone up, the cost of higher education has gone up. it's harder and harder and harder for the middle class in this country to survive.
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if you're a child living in poverty in the united states, your chances of getting a college education are nine in 100. in the 21st century. in the greatest country in the world. and there are countries all over this globe that sense weakness and are trying to outcompete us, trying to outeducate us, trying to outinvest in their infrastructure while we play foolish political games. they're not waiting for permission from us to outcompete us. and, you know, one of the single greatest assets this country has had since almost its founding has been our bulletproof credit rating. has been the fortress that is our full faith and credit of the united states.
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financial transactions all over the globe, spanning decades, hundreds -- centuries, have been financed based on the strength of our credit, the full faith and credit of the united states, and generation after generation of politicians have done everything they could to protect it. just as any mayor in my state, just as may superintendent of schools in my state would do anything to make sure they protected the credit rating of their city, or of their school district. and now we face for the first time in our country's history a threat of downgrade. a threat that our interest rates would spike. that's not a political observation. that's coming from the credit rating agencies. they're not politicians. and what the math tells us is that every 1% increase in our
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cost of borrowing adds $1.3 trillion, $1.3 trillion to our debt over the next 10 years. making the problems that we face today even harder to solve. the president knows that i've supported for a long time a comprehensive approach to this, one that would actually make a meaningful difference to our debt and to our deficit, and i will continue to fight for it as i know the senator from alaska will. but it's time for washington to move past these political games and reassure our capital markets we're not going to be the first generation of senators to blow up our credit rating over politics. to reduce the full faith of -- and credit of the united states
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to rubble for politics. i don't want to be somebody who 30 years from now or 40 years from now, somebody comes and say hey, we detect you were once in the united states senate, you were one of a hundred people here when we compromised one of the greatest assets that this country has. so i would implore the leadership of both parties, both here and in the house, to work this house, and then let's get on with the tough discussion that we have to have about our debt and deficit. mr. president, i thank again the senator from alaska for allowing me to speak ahead of him and also for his leadership throughout this entire debate. he, like a number of us, have been working hard with members across the aisle to try to get a bipartisan solution that's balanced, that makes sense, heading to the future and i thank him for his leadership and
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i yield the floor. mr. begiven: thank you very much, mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from alaska airlines. mr. begich: my friend from colorado is so passionate to his state and this country. he's laid out such a logical case on the debt of this nation, why we need to deal with it. but i will address that also but i came down here just like the senator from colorado to talk about the f.a.a. bill. and i wasn't planning to come down honestly, mr. president. i was in my office and, you know, as senators we have lots of meetings, lots of events, lots of activities and photo ops, meet and greets they call them, people come in and say hello and chitchat with them, they're residents from your state and i was siting -- sitting there and having great conversation, there were four or five of them, a great couple, they were here from the
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mens leo legion. there was another young woman who was there, a young leadership student, jocelyn from juneau. and, you know, just to be a photo op is what they call them, we tak shake hands and take some photos. it was interesting having the conversation because the first conversation they asked me was what's going to happen with the debt of this nation. and before i elaborate on my thoughts and what i told them, i first, because they're both related, the f.a.a. bill, what's going on with the debt, it's all related. it's all related because all this inability to resolve these issues are being created by the house majority. the inability for them to function, the inability for them to do their work. the f.a.a. is a great example. i know the senator from colorado mentioned that the conference
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committee hasn't brought out a bill. what's amazing about this is the senate appointed their conferees in april. and for those that are watching, the way this works the house passes a bill, the senate passes a bill. they're not always exactly the same so they go to a joint conference committee made up of members from the house, members from the senate, democrats and republicans, and they work out a compromise. well, the house members or the senate members have and did appoint their members in april. the house hasn't appointed anybody. anybody. so the battle we're in is because of one person, one person who's decided that 4,000 people should be furloughed, about 80 in alaska, to stop projects that are critical to safety, airport transportation. committee tell you there is no other state, no other state that
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depends on air transportation like alaska. 80% of our communities have no access by road. it is by air. and so for one person to decide that he wants to play politics or he doesn't like something -- oddly enough, the items he wanted to eliminate are from states that are represented by democrats and chairmen of committees. it's unbelievable. you know, i didn't come here 2 1/2, three years ago to play those games. i came here to do the work that the people of alaska send me to do. part of that work was to make sure that the federal aviation administration actually has legislation that they can operate under because they haven't had it since 2007. i got elected in 2008. they've had 20 extensions to
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this while they work out the differences. the senate did pass a bill. we did our work. we did it, we did it with a lot of debate -- i sit on that committee, the commerce committee, as a member. senator rockefeller, senator hutchison, republican-democrat, did the work with all the members. we then sent it over. the house passed theirs and now we're waiting. we're waiting for the house to do something. not one person, because that's not how this system should work, but appoin appoint conferees son sit down and resolve these final minor issues. but instead, the chairman decides over there that he thinks best, he knows best. here's what happens. yes, 4,000 people get furloughed all across this country. people who have mortgage payments to make and probably
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some kids they have that are planning to go to college this fall and they have -- maybe they're the only breadwinner in their home. but 4,000 people. 79 in alaska. direct f.a.a. employees. but compound that with the next piece of the equation. part of the f.a.a. bill is to invest. the people who fly -- i fly a lot. i think i'll hit probably 100,000-plus miles this year, maybe more, 125,000 miles flying back and forth from washington to my home state visiting communities all across my state, and i pay a fee, like everyone does in our bill that we pay for our tickets, to go to the f.a.a. who then invests them into making sure our runways are safer, our facilities are safer. it's the people who fly, their money that goes to the f.a.a. to pay for the improvements that we
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use when we fly. it's not complicated. and yet what's happening because the airlines don't have the authority to collect this tax, this fee, they're unable to then collect it and give it to the federal government. now, it's important -- and i'll get back to this fee in a second of what's happening with that money -- but first, without that money, you cannot do the construction projects. it's all part of the system. so in alaska, it's a pretty important piece. in bethel, a project now has stopped work over there because they can't complete the project. now, as my friend from colorado mentioned, colorado has a short construction season. we have a very short construction season in bethel. and so we're trying to build a project there that improves the
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approach lights, make it safer for people to land at the bethel airport. that project has been stopped. there's no other access to bethel except by air. we're 400 miles from anchorage, the largest city in the state. by air. because you cannot drive to bethel. so that project has stopped. another project is the air traffic control tower in anchorage. now, people say, oh, it's just a tower, what does it matter? well, you know, the tower's old, it needs improvements. and here's why it's important. it's not only important for alaska, and, again, the people who would do that project, it's important for this country. we're the third busiest air cargo airport in the sense of cargo throughput in the world. we move products from around the world through anchorage that are produced around the world and
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produced in this country. if you're shipping something to europe or asia and you're west of the mississippi, the odds are you're coming through anchorage international airport. almost 700 wide-body jets fly through there every single week carrying cargo. the third busiest cargo throughput in the world. it's an economic engine. it's a job creator. i remember almost 25 years ago when the idea from two companies, a couple companies, fedex, u.p.s., said, geez, we'll look at anchorage maybe of our international hub because of its location. today it's a robust facility and many other airlines and airports -- airlines use it and cargo facilities use it. huge. but, again, because the house isn't doing their job by appointing conferees, resolving this, instead, one person decides he wants to play
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politics over the life safety of our air traffic system, the federal aviation system, that project's not happening. so not only are the 79 f.a.a. employees furloughed in alaska, projects in bethel and anchorage aren't moving forward, so that means the private contractors who -- it's not government employees that make these improvements and build these extensions or lighting systems or remodeling the tower. it's private contractors who employ people who then pay mortgages and buy cars and spend money in the economy and help our economy move forward. so their action is clearly a job-killing action. that's what it is. now, they'll say it's some other reasons but that's what it's doing, it's killing jobs. and it's hurting and going to cost more. because when the season's over in the next month or month and a
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half, construction season in bethel, you don't goat come back in november -- get to come back in november and say we're going to finish this project. you can't. the weather conditions don't allow it. so what you'll end up doing is next year -- and, of course, the costs will go up because the private contractor. and i hear a lot from folk fromr side over in the other house say hey, i'm from the private sector. i don't know where they worked in the private sector. i have. that's where i made my living. that's where my wife makes her living, from the private sector. and they spout off about the private sector. well then pass the legislation that the private sector wants, wants to see move forward for the creation of more jobs and an opportunity to make our air safer. so, again, mr. president, it's astounding to me, you know, how dysfunctional the house majority is over there, how they're unable to do the work. you know, they complained a lot earlier this year that the senate doesn't do their job and
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we're not doing our work. we are doing our work. we passed the military construction-v.a. bill. we passed the f.a.a. bill. we passed several things out of here. it goes over there and dies. goes over there and they have one person who decides they know best. a lot of those guys ran in 2010 on the effort to open governme government. 72 hours to review bills and all this other, which is great. i'm not seeing it. not seeing it. they had some rules committee meeting earlier last night or whatever late night they did it to set the rules of what they're going to vote on in less than, you know, 12 or 13 hours. i'm sure that's been notified to a lot of people. it's amazing to me these guys ran on the fact they want to open government, the system's broken, and then it's so dysfunctional over there. the f.a.a. bill, as i mentioned, these airlines collect fees that then go to the f.a.a. to make sure all this happens.
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it's part of the fee we pay to travel. well, now they're not authorized to collect it. but what happens? several of these airlines jacked up their fees to collect the money for their own. $200 million a week coming from consumers into the pockets of these airlines for their profi profits. not to improve the safety of the airports, which is the money is supposed to be designed for. now, i will say, alaska airlines -- i'm proud to say alaska airlines, hawaiian airline, spirit airlines are three examples of people -- companies that did not do that. they did not jack up the consumer for their own bottom line. and remembering that their job is those fees are for the purpose of improving airports, not improving the corporate profits or the c.e.o.' c.e.o.'s million-plus checks they get at the end of the year for the work that they do. the problem is, we're -- just
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like something that happened many years ago, something similar like this happened, we're not going to be able to get those resources back to make sure these airports are safer. i, of course, implore the airlines to do one of two things. to lower those fares they jacked up or put that money aside and work with congress to make sure that money goes into the fund to ensure that we improve these airports. i challenge every one of those airlines that have done that. because as a consumer who's watching this issue, they should be appalled that $200 million a week that you think or you thought was going to improve the airports you fly through, it's not. it's going in the pockets for profit for some of these companies. again, i point out, alaska airlines, hawaiian airlines, spirit airlines are a few of the
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only majors that aren't doing that and i commend them for that. i commend them for doing the right thing by the consumer here. you know, mr. president, i was originally coming down and going to talk, you know, as i got inspired by the students that were sitting there on the budget, i wanted to talk about f.a.a. but i want to get back to the budget. as i mentioned these young people that came to my office and they asked, the first question, what are we going to do about the debt? great -- you know, it's the question. it's the question of the day. what are we going to do? you know, we can debate the how we got here, you know. everyone got us here, democrats, republicans, current, past -- everybody. we got a problem. we've got a challenge. you know, i came here, i know the presiding officer's new. you came here to solve problems, create solutions, not just play the politics and push it off for
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another day but actually do some things here. that's what people sent me here to do. i know they sent you here for the same reason, to do the job that the american people expect us to do. i know alaskans expect me to do. it is, no question in my mind, why we are here today, because, again, the house, house majori majority, i will point out, can't do their job. they're unable to do their job. they're not dealing with reality. now, do i want to add more debt to the nation? no, no one does. no one does. as my colleague from colorado earlier said, and i know the presiding officer, we have been working on ideas, and one thing that's unique about the senate is there is an effort here. it may not be as visible as maybe the press like to portray because they would rather see the battles, that's better press, but i can tell you there is a lot of bipartisan discussion going on.
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the gang of six. you can argue if that's good or bad, but the point is three republicans, three democrats sat down for months. the budget committee, we sat down for months. we came up with proposals. we're talking to republicans, republicans are talking to democrats. we're looking for solutions. we're trying to weave through this. the senate is trying to do this, trying to solve this problem, create a solution that moves us forward. but there are several and the house majority over there that just believe drive off the cliff and that's good policy. i don't know if that's good policy. i would rather drive on the road going somewhere. and that's what we're trying to do over the next few days here. as i think of the difference here, people say well, why don't you take this deal or that deal. here's the difference. it's fundamental. they are not complicated.
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the deal that the leader over there, that speaker boehner has is about $900 billion in reductions. it is short term, has a joint committee to look to the long term. what's the reid proposal? well, the reid proposal is now scored by c.b.o., congressional budget office for those that are watching wondering what all these things mean, mean, $2.2 trillion-plus in reductions. two and a half times more, almost two and a half times more than the house version, and it's long term. here's why that's important. i'm not voting for anything short term. let me make that very clear, mr. president, and others who might be watching. do you want to disrupt and continue to disrupt this
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economy, keep doing these shenanigans. keep doing these two, three, four-month deals. that is disastrous to this economy. i have heard and have talked to business leader after business leader from associations to individuals to people back in my home state, and they say over and over again don't do short term. whatever you decide, give us certainty. certainty. the other thing about the senate, u.s. house. only we describe long term as 16, 18 months because that's all we can do around here. but short term as you can imagine is two, three, four months. that will be more disruptive to this economy than anything we can imagine. because all you do as we shift -- and i can describe this because i understand this business, i have been in it, my wife's in it, the retail business. here is what happens. we'll have this same debate in
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november probably. well, here is what happens in november. this is the biggest time -- for people who are buying, for retailers, this is the most important time. november -- actually, back to school a little bit. november through december. that's when people make their expenditures, buying, consuming, spending money in our private. i know a lot of people always like to blame democrats, it's all about government. hey, i come from the private sector. as i said earlier, that's where i make my living -- that's where i made my living. it is an important part of our economy. so here we're going to debate, create more uncertainty in the most important time when consumers are going to try to judge what they do. what do they do? they spend a little bit extra on their gift for their friend, do they go on that trip they were planning, do they make that extra expenditure? and yet we're going to have this same debate. so long term is important.
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again, how we measure here, 16, 18 months. but that's better than the short-term plan. again, no businessperson that has come to me -- and i challenge any businessperson. pick up the phone, call me, let me know. tell me you want a short term and i will be happy to come down here to the floor and say that. i will mention your company name. i will tell people this company is interested in short term. i'm happy to do that. i'm not going to get those calls because they know that's not the way to run a business, that's not a way to run a household, and that sure to heck shouldn't be the way we run our government. so there is a clear difference. for all those people that -- i get a lot of pro and con on this issue calling my office, sending me emails. for those that say just vote for the boehner thing, i'm telling you why i'm not. i want you to understand clearly my position. it is not about he's a republican, i'm a democrat. that's irrelevant. it's short term. it's less spending reductions. it keeps us in turmoil.
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it doesn't move us forward. it's all about shenanigans and game playing in politics. that's what he is presenting. now, maybe the reid proposal isn't perfect. i know there are republicans that have some ideas here on the senate that want the grades. but it is long term, it has significant reductions and moves us down a path in the right direction. it's not perfect. but i can tell you the idea they have over there will not work for this economy. mr. president, i have probably spoken too long here, but, you know, those kids from juneau and healey and anchorage and kodiak, you know, they had a great question. when kids are asking that question and they say to me and i give them the same exact presentation, i say here's the differences, and i give them the
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papers that people have done and say here, you look at it, and they say to me why aren't we doing a long term? because why? these kids are now at an age where they are thinking about their future. they are not thinking about the next weekend. they are thinking about their future. they have a position that we could learn a lot from around this place, i'll tell you, and they made it very clear to me whatever you do, make it long term, because they're thinking about their future and where they want to be. you know, it's an incredible commentary when you have kids who have more wherewithal in the sense of their knowledge of what should be done than the body we sit in today. it should wake us up. the last thing i'll note -- you know, i think about what my colleague from colorado said about the value of our position
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in this world when it comes to ensuring that people understand that america will stand behind everything we do, the debt we do, the positions we take. as a matter of fact, it was so important, it was written into the constitution that we should never question the ability for us to pay our bills. for those that are on the other side that like to spout off and they pull out of their pocket their little portable constitution -- and all of us get those, we all have those -- and they cite the constitution, sometimes they forget sections of it, i hope they don't forget this, this section. we should never be questioned in regards to our debt. we pay our bills. we stand behind what we do. that's what makes our country different than any country in this world. so i challenge them to get their job done, maybe on the f.a.a.
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bill, maybe on this issue around the debt, but the house needs to get their act together -- the majority, let me make that clear, the majority over there, get their job done, quit killing things over there from jobs to legislation, focus on the work that people sent them here -- especially the group in 2010, but who sent me here, sent the presiding officer here. we were sent here to do a job. it is outrageous to me that we cannot move forward when it's so simple in the sense of a plan that gets us on path long term, has better spending reductions. it just to me -- maybe it's too logical. you know, maybe that's the problem around here. you get too simple, too logical, it doesn't work. it's been complicated and a lot of gamesmanship is the way it works. you know, i want to prove that wrong. again, mr. president, i thank you for allowing me the time to say a few words and hopefully
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the people that are watching us and listening, that they hear the real debate and cut through all the moment in time of politicizing, and maybe hopefully they hear those six kids that i heard and hear their concerns and what their position is. so again, mr. president, i thank you for the time and i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. mr. franken: are we in morning business? the presiding officer: we are in morning business. mr. franken: great. thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i rise today to pay tribute to former minnesota twins pitcher burt bleilevin who this week received his sport's highest honor when he was inducted into the major league baseball hall of fame. to burt, i offer hearty and well-deserved congratulations.
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to the rest of the baseball world, i ask the question what took so long? in the 14 years since he first became eligible for the hall of fame, we in minnesota all assumed that with his rare talent and hall of fame numbers, burt was a shoo-in and for many of those 14 years, he was considered the best player never to have been inducted. i'm meap to say as a minnesotan and a lifelong twins' fan that this year burt was officially voted into the hall of fame. people in minnesota all know that burt belongs in the distinguished list of minnesota twins already in the hall of fame, harry men he brew, rod carew and cushy puckett, as well as two other baseball greats who grew up in minnesota and later played for the twins and were
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inducted into the hall of fame, paul molitor and dave winfield. each of them had hall of fame careers and now burt has finally joined them in the hall. bert pitched 22 seasons in the major leagues, 11 of them for the twins but he also took his talents to texas, pittsburgh, cleveland and california. during his career, he won 287 games. he struck out an amazing 3,701 batters and is fifth, fifth on the all-time career strikeout list. that's more career strikeouts than pitching greats tom seaver, walter johnson, bob gibson, greg maddox, cy young or even his boyhood idol sandy koufax. he pitched 60 shutouts and led the league in shutouts three
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times. he had a career earned run average of just 3.31. he pitched 242 complete games. that would just be unheard of today. he played on two world championship teams in minnesota with the 1987 twins and in spurring. for twins fans, we all know bert as a major part of that 1987 twins world championship team, which we all revere for finally bringing a world championship to our -- our state, and then we won again in 1991. bert mentioned in his acceptance speech on sunday that he is the first hall of famer born in holland. he moved to california as a child and became interested in baseball by watching sandy
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koufax pitch for the dodgers. his father joe, also a baseball fan, built him a pitcher's mound in the back yard where he developed one of the best curve balls in baseball history. i like to think that if my dad had built me -- no, i don't think i would be in the hall of fame. bert finished his playing career in 1992. in 1996, he rejoined the twins in the broadcast booth where for many years he and dick braemer have become familiar voices to twins fans all over the upper midwest. i personally love nothing more than watching a twins game on tv and listening to dick and bert, who in my humble opinion are an authoritative and amazingly entertaining broadcast team. during broadcasts, bert has
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created a phenomenon using his telestrateor where twins fans, whether they are in target field or on the road, hold up signs to catch bert's interest and then he will circle them. there is no higher honor for a twins fan than to be circled by bert and every game is packed with fans holding signs that simply say "ci circle me, bert." he was joined at the induction ceremony by his wife, his siblings and his mother jenny. during his speech he spoke about his father joe who died in 2004 of parkinson's disease saying i know he's up there right now looking down. in memory of his father, bert
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and his wife gail started the circle me bert web site to raise money for the national parkinson foundation minnesota. that really says volumes about bert blyleven. and bert is just known in minnesota for his dedication to other charities and to the community there. once again, bert as a lifelong twins fan, thank you and congratulations, after 14 years of waiting you are hereby circled by the major league baseball hall of fame, where generations of fans from minnesota and around the country and around the world will know of your career and your amazing contributions to the game of baseball. and to the community of minnesota. mr. president, thank you very
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much. i yield the floor and would suggest the absence of a quorum, and maybe also put in a word for tony oliva and then also suggest an absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from new jersey. a senator: i ask for unanimous consent to speak for 15 minutes. the presiding officer: the senator from new jersey will observe a quorum call is in progress. a senator: i ask unanimous consent the further quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection, the senator may speak for up to 15 minutes. mr. lautenberg: up to 15
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minutes, thank you. mr. president, i think it's obvious to the world around us that the atmosphere here is hardly one of comforter satisfaction. the public doesn't see the agony of the debate that's taking place as we watch how dysfunctional the discussion about the national debt has been here. we're -- we feel the threat to america's world financial leadership that's lurking around here and it's not very satisfying to those people whose homes are close to foreclosure
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or the people who need to be assured that health care is going to be there for them, or that their child can learn, can get an education without mortgaging their future or even can't even get a mortgage on that. so we look around and we watch and we listen and we see that the republicans in the house and the republicans in the senate are in search for political gain, regardless of the cost to our society and our nation. and i don't make this statement casually, but after months of watching and listening to the targeted goal of politics over the pain that could follow a default, no other conclusion may be drawn.
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we want to consider the evidence. by way of example, vice president biden convened a bipartisan working group to find solutions to get the national debt problem over with, get it resolved and let us go on to our normal and needed debate and business. after that, republicans walked out. walked out. next, president obama offered republicans what he called a grand deal that would reduce the deficit by $4 trillion. republicans ran away. and now our majority leader, harry reid, has proposed a plan that includes more than
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$2 trillion in spending cuts, $1 in cuts for every dollar that the debt limit is increased, and not even insisting on a dollar of revenues, which has been offered, suggested several times, but there is no way of getting through the obstinacy on the other side. republicans turn their back. time after time, democrats in this senate and in the white house have offered the republicans compromise after compromise but they don't see their target. their target is to do damage to the obama administration so that it hurts sufficiently to discount the progress that has been made under -- for our society under president obama. and time and time again, the
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republicans have changed their demands to find reasons to say "no." mr. president, are we asking the republicans to do something radical, something never been done before? that's certainly not the case. over the past half century, the debt ceiling has been raised 75 times, almost two-thirds of those occasions under republican presidents. in fact, the debt ceiling was increased 18 times under president reagan and seven times under president george w. bush. our country has never defaulted. and so the question that must be raised: what's different about today? why, at a time when we already face a real jobs crisis in this country, would republicans
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manufacture another economic crisis? why would they do that? will destroying the economy help republicans win seats next year, when people across our country are already expressing their dissatisfaction with the deadlocks that they see being displayed? we heard the minority leader say his number-one priority is stopping the president from winning another term. what a goal that is. he is our president, elected by the people of the country. he has a item of four years and -- he has a term of four years and will be up for reelection, and we hope and we pray that he continues to be the president of our country. what good does it do to target a -- the system? make known what it is they stand for. so far we've seen that they stand for nothing that's helpful to the average american. so what we need, what we need is a chance to have an honest
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discussion. insecurity reigns as people grow more and more anxious about their inability to afford the basics of life, jobs, health care, education. they see prices raised around them as their purchasing power shrinks. look at the price of gasoline, you'll see a perfect example of what's happening. add one republican presidential candidate -- and one republican presidential candidate was asked -- and i quote -- the question was, "does it strike you that as the unemployment rate goes up, your chances of winning office also go up?" do you know what her answer was? she said, "i hope so." hope so? what an outrageous thing to say from the halls of government,
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the high halls of government. "i hope so"? i hope that unemployment goes up, says she -- says she -- so she might have a chance to win office? how cruel that statement is. make no mistake, if the united states treasury runs out of cash next week, the principal burden will fall on middle-class families, but the effects on our total economy will be devastating as well. we not -- we may not be able to send out social security checks to seniors, benefit checks to veterans, the people who served the country. us stop paying them? or paychecks to the men and women who now wear our country's uniform in afghanistan and iraq. association we can't pay you, is that what we're going to say? interest rates could rise almost
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immediately, greatly increasing the cost of mortgages, car loans, student loans, credit cards, you name it. and if middle-class americans think that their 401(k) plans suffered during the wall street crisis a few years ago, imagine what will happen to the markets if the united states government can't pay its bills or redeem bonds that are ordinarily turned in for cash. a default will lead to increased job losses at a time when we're still emerging from a recession. and 14 million are now out of work and those are the relatively short-term impacts. mr. president, default crisis will damage our reputation, our credit standing around the world. it will call into question american credibility, stability, financial leadership. it will make our bonds and our currency less attractive to investors. and we may never recover the
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exalted status of our financial instrument. but in response to this looming crisis, our friends, the republicans, are digging their trenches deeper and offering us little but certificate coul ciro resolve this situation. their latest trick is to propose a short-term debt limit increase that will leave us in the exact same position six months from now so they'll have another opportunity to make political mischief. imagine. imagine. all kinds of tricks, all kinds of devices to try and cut short something that can be dealt with and left behind and let us continue trying to solve the serious problems that our country has. the boehner plan poses the same
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grave risks to our economy as default. cnn reported that the boehner plan would probably still lead to a downgrade of the united states credit rating. and christian cooper, head of the u.s. dollar derivatives trading at jeffries & company -- and he's an authority -- said -- and i quote -- "from the market's point of view, a two-stage plan is a non-starter. there is significant risk of a downgrade with a deal that ties further cuts to another vote only a few months down the roa road." so, mr. president, it's time for the republicans to remember that all of our citizens are entitled to be heard, not just the wealthy ones, not just the millionaires, the billionaires, the tea partiers and the
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powerful because they have positions that get attention when they've made phone calls here. inherent in our responsibilities are our obligations to preserve our strength as a democratic society. mr. president, it's time to get serious. no more sleight of hand. honest discourse is essential. and the other day, we were reminded -- not how i'd describe my own reaction -- shock. they had picture of lovely looking young people walking away from daddy's airplane that they had, whether it's a charter or owned, i don't know, to go to camp. mr. president, i did well in business. i ran a big company. i got there because i got the
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g.i. bill to help me. g.i. bill helped me start a company with two other people, two other fellows that has 45,000 employees -- 45,000 job jobs -- because i was able to get an education. under the g.i. bill. it was fantastic. and so when i see what's being prized as a front-page picture in "the new york times" of this child -- looked like a lovely child -- walking to camp from daddy's airplane, and to me, i don't object to that. if they make their money legal, responsible way, they can spend it any way they want. but why the devil wouldn't they want to contribute something to the underpinnings of this country? i don't understand it. why is there resistance from those who've made so much that they can have yachts and airplanes and this and that? it's said sometimes here as a
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last resort, oh, class warfare, that's what we're witnessing. class warfare? the warfare comes from the top down, because the average citizen, those who work for a living, those whose jobs right now are often insecure, those who watch their 401(k), precious savings, maybe being dwindled as a result of a negative change in the marketplace, saying the young people in their family, sons and daughters, who have the capacity to learn, i wish that i could afford, says dad or mom, i wish that we could afford to send you to the right kind of a school that your abilities suggest you can handle. but we can't afford it. we do a disservice to that family. we do a disservice to our country when those things half. i don't understand -- we do a disservice to our country when those things happen. i don't understand why we have
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so much made, not by their own ingenuity exclusively, but made by the fact that we have a foundation in this society of people who want to go to work every day and do the right thing and that's what holds up this -- this facility of ours. i'm not talking about the building, i'm talking about the facility that this country has. you can't build a house from the foundation down -- sorry, from the ceiling down, from the chimney down, and you can't build a society from the top down. you need the underpinnings, you need those people who bring their skills daily to work and hold out hope for their children to succeed. that's what we need. we need a regeneration of spirit in this country of ours. but it's not going to -- it's not going to happen when the republicans' dominant view is, no, let's get obama, that's what
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we have to do. foul play. it's almost like desertion. i wore the country's uniform proudly. we need the entire country to participate. we're just not going to get it with the foul schemes that are being proposed. and so, mr. president, with that, i yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. quorum call: the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: mr. president, may i ask that the pending quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: i ask at the conclusion -- i'm about to yield the floor to my distinguished senior senator, jack reed. i ask unanimous consent that at the conclusion of his remarks, i be granted recognition.
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the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reed: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. reed: mr. president, senator whiews and i have come to the floor today to pay tribute to governor bruce sundland. he passed away last week. it is important that my colleague is here because he was the director of policy for governor sundland and many of the achievements in the administration were a direct contribution of senator whitehouse's extraordinary efforts. first i am here as a rhode islander to say on behalf of the people of my state how much we appreciate the leadership, the vision, the determination of governor bruce sundland. he was elected in the midst of the worst financial crisis in the history of our state since the great depression, the collapse of a private credit union system. he got through that crisis as only he could. then he went on to reconstruct
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our airport to reform our workers compensation system, to make lasting contributions to the people of rhode island. so as a rhode islander, i come here to salute an extraordinary offer. when governor sundlun was elected to the state house in 1990, i was elected to my first term in the united states congress, and so i was there to observe the extraordinary intellect, the extraordinary determination, the skill and relentless commitment to doing his best to help the people of rhode island. i saw that firsthand. truly without bruce's leadership, we would not have weathered the financial crisis of 1991 in rhode island. his extraordinary grasp of the financial details, his unwavering determination to do the right thing, not the popular thing, his ability to withstand withering criticism from all
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quarters resulted not only in the restitution of the savings of hundreds of thousands of rhode islanders but essentially the repayment of the moneys that had to be borrowed to take care of the crisis. it was an extraordinary work, and frankly i think everyone in rhode island rap -- rapidly conceded that only bruce sundlun could have done it. i also come here as, like bruce, a veteran of our armed forces, but unlike bruce, not a combat veteran. bruce sundlun joined the united states army and qualified as a pilot in the air corps in world war ii. he was brave, he was tough, he led with great distinction his crew in numerous bombing raids over occupied europe. in one of those raids, he was shot down, and of course he had the presence of mind to keep the
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aircraft as steady as he could to let as many of his crewmen escape, and finally at the very last moment, he himself parachuted to earth. he was behind enemy lines. he was without any weapons except his determination, his courage and his determination again not only to survive but to return to the fight. through an amazing series of breathtaking episodes that read like a novel, he would go from village to village. he would seek out the priests in the french village or belgian village. he would say in his fluent french as a graduate of williams college, he was an american flyer and he needed their help, and he always received their help. and then he would be given assistance and be hid for a while. and then he would go, he told me, with his great sort of sardonic smile that he would find unusual ways to get around.
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he would go into the village at market time when the ladies of the village had parked their bicycles and he would take one and he would pedal as fast as he could to the next village where he could find another bicycle and he would pedal. and so he covered the route through occupied europe finally making his way into switzerland. a remarkable bit of courage. after the war, he continued to distinguish himself in business and in so many different ways, but one thing he left, a legacy not just to the people of rhode island, not just a public record in rhode island, but he was part of that greatest generation that left an indelible image on the soldiers, the sailors, the aviators, the marines who serve today, a fidelity to duty, of courage, of determination to serve and sacrifice on behalf of your comrades and your country, and that image continues to
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sustain our forces in the field and this great nation. so to governor sundlun, to his family, as a rhode islander, i thank you, as a colleague in government, i thank you, and as someone who is inspired by your service to serve this country, i thank you. may you rest in peace. and i would yield the floor. mr. whitehouse: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: mr. president, i'm very pleased to follow rhode island's distinguished senior senator with remarks about our friend and our former governor, bruce sundlun. he served with some of our colleagues in the senate today when ben nelson was governor and when tom carper was governor of nebraska and delaware respectively. they served with bruce and he was one of those irrepressible
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characters who they remember very distinctly to this day. he had a remarkable rhode island life. he was the son of a jewelry store owner who in turn was the son of an immigrant watchmaker, and it turns out he had real athletic talent. he was a track star, breaking record after record around rhode island. it was as a competitor in that era that he first felt the sting of discrimination over being jewish, and that gave him a lasting characteristic to stick out -- stick up for the underdog. as i mentioned at his funeral service, he was not -- he was the opposite of a fair weather friend. he became a better friend the
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stormier the weather got around you. he went on with his great generation to defend our country and to fight for freedom around the globe in world war ii. he was the pilot of a b-17, the damn yankee, at a time when the life expectancy for bomber crews over europe was not very long. and unfortunately his aircraft was shot down and crashed in belgium. he was able to survive the crash, although as the pilot he was the last person out, the last living person out. when he went back to belgium years later, people who remembered that day remembered being astonished that the parachute that he had appeared out of no place just above the ground, just before he hit just in time to save him.
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but he was injured and hid in the manner of the purloined letter, he hid in plain sight as troops swept the area looking for the survivors of the bomber crash. he lay out in the middle of the field in a deep place in the plowed furrow where you could really only see him if you got down to the end of the furrow and looked. and so as the nazi soldiers were poking through the hay bales and going through the sheds and looking under whatever they could find, there he lay more or less in plain sight but still. he was shot down on december 1 of 1943, so you can imagine how cold it was lying in that field while the search went on around you for hours in belgium. and for the rest of his life, he
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hated the cold. there was no weather that was too warm for him, and he hated, hated, hated the cold. i remember when first lady hillary clinton came to speak up in rhode island when he was governor. he was wearing this enormous black sheepskin coat, very thick and very warm. as he prepared to step outside of the state house and go out on the stone deck looking over downtown on a cold, cold winter afternoon, and mrs. clinton started needling him about how jack kennedy didn't need a coat, it's really not very fashionable and people are going to question how tough you are if you go out there and have this big coat on. she needled him enough that he ended up handing off the coat, went outside into the bitter cold, made the introduction of the first lady, turned to welcome her to the podium, and out she came with a smile ear to
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ear, wearing his coat. he loved that kind of exchange with people and i think immensely loved the clintons. he was one of the first governors if not the first governor to endorse president clinton, and the clintons never forgot. he did not get to switzerland until may 5 of 1944. he was 156 days as an american, american, -- american jewish bomber pilot behind nazi lines in belgium and in france. no greater testament to this man's resourcefulness and drive could be imagined than succeeding for that long in that circumstance. when he came back from the war, he went to harvard law school and became an attorney at the department of justice. he was an assistant to a rhode
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island attorney general, rhode islander who became attorney general, jay howard mcgrath, and it began a very, very successful career in the law for him. it was also the time when president kennedy came to office representing that greatest generation, then a new generation, and he trusted bruce sundlun to run his inaugural parade, which was a kind of logistics feat that governor sundlun loved. the fact that it snowed like crazy the night before did not phase him a bit. the entire radical went off on schedule and without incident as planned despite the very inclement weather because bruce had prepared so well in advance. president kennedy appointed him to the board of comsat, and for many years -- he was the longest serving director of comsat,
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which is a brilliant private-public partnership that helped open up the skies to the space age. his business career was remarkable. he took a foundering airline called executive jet and turned it into the largest private and charter airline in the country. he took a department store in downtown urban providence at a time when new england cities were in decline, at a time when cities across the country were losing ground to the suburbs that were sprouting up around them. he took this -- i don't know, dying business, i guess you'd say, and he saw in that downtown department store a media empyre, and he went off and he began buying radio stations and tv stations and created this remarkable company, the outlet corporation as a media empire.
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he also turned it into a refuge from time to time. in the blizzard of 1978, the state of rhode island was clobbered by snow, people were trapped downtown for hours and hours, in some cases days. he saw to it that the outlet company opened, that the cafeteria kept serving, that the part of the department store that sold clothing gave clothing, whoever needed it, that the part of the store that sold bedding was spread all over the store so people could sleep on the bedding. he loved a crisis. he responded to a crisis better than anybody i know. it brought out his best characteristics. and they were certainly necessary when he was elected governor because on the very first day of his administration, he was obliged to close more than 30 different lending institutions across rhode island, serving more than 300,000 of rhode island's one
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million population. he went from being sworn in to the receiving line where he greeted all his happy supporters and all the welcoming officials and all the well-wishers who came in from rhode island and rolled immediately from that into a press conference in which he announced that we had to close these institutions because the deposit insurance provider ended up having been crooked and had failed and they could not operate without deposit insurance and so they had to be closed. that was a heck of a way to start a governorship. he also found out he had inherited the biggest budget deficit with the state had ever seen and we had never seen a state with a bigger deficit than governor sundlun inherited and every workers compensation insurer said i'm leaving the state, i can't take it. a lesser person might have failed under all that pressure. be only did bruce meet all of
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those exigencies of the moment, he also worked very hard to set a better ethical tone and to restructure state government so that it would be lasting because most of those things went wrong because of failures in ethics in the rhode island state government. so that was a pretty remarkable added accomplishment on top of solving all those underlying problems. and third was he had confidence in rhode island and he had confidence in america, and we were in a terrible recession and so he went to work and he got things done. he built a new airport terminal. he built a new -- got a new small started that would be built. he built a new hotel that allowed for the convention center to go forward so he built a new convention center. he changed the skyline of providence, he moved one of our universities to a downtown campus, and he understood that in times of economic distress,
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activity was good. and positive activity that brought jobs was better still. in his personal characteristics, he was a remarkable individual. he was relentless and determined and decisive when issues were presented before him. with his staff he was demanding and abrupt and terse. i asked him once why he didn't bother to say hello when you got a phone call from him. he just started talking at you. and why when the conversation was over he just hung up without saying goodbye or any pleasantries. and i said don't you think it would go a little further if you, you know, said hello and goodbye in your telephone conversations? he said how much time do you think i'd waste in my entire life? add up all the times you've wasted saying hello and goodbye. doesn't do anything that's productive. he had that kind of an attitude.
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but he was bold and he was willing to take big, big leaps. i guess back to his early days as a broad jumper he was willing to take big, big leaps. as a staff perpendicular, he was extraordinary to work for. i've told the story of opening day. a few of us were in on that news but it had to be very closely held because you'd have created a run on all those banks if word had leaked. so even many of his staff people had no idea this was going on until he announced it. so that was kind of a shocker, and made -- it made for an interesting time to be a staff person. now, on another occasion he had a couple of raccoons bothering his -- on his property and they were bothering some -- a den of baby foxes and he didn't want the baby foxes to be killed by the raccoons so he took out a shotgun, went down to the end
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of his property and shot the two raccoons and then climbed this the car with his state trooper and headed off to work and of course described this exciting episode of his morning and the trooper said to him, governor, don't you realize that it's against the law to fire off a weapon in the city of newport? and in his customary brusque and decisive way he said take me to the courthouse. a trial was going on in the newport county courthouse, and into the trial walks the governor. and the governor interrupts the trial and tells the judge i would like to plead guilty. and the judge thankfully said well, i'm not going to accept your plea, i'm doing something else right now, plus you don't have benefit of counsel, to which he tartly responded i'm as good a lawyer as there is in rhode island and the judge responded well, a lawyer who is representing himself has a fool for a client.
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and on your client's behalf let me tell you i'm going to accept that plea. so there is the governor's staff, the phone rings and the message is your boss is in court trying to plead guilty to a criminal offense. you can imagine how that lights up a staff's day. so down we went to try to help take care of that. on another gay was the arrival of his daughter when he was elected, governor sundlun had three sons, tracy, stewart, and peter. well, it turned out that there was also a daughter, and in midterm at age 16, kara arrived and was recognized as bruce's daughter from a relationship that he had had years before, and taken into the family and she is now at the end of his days was was beloved as any of his sons but that also can be an
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exciting day for staff members when suddenly the boss turns up with a brand-new 16-year-old daughter that nobody knew about before. he had five wives in addition to those four children, he led a rich, full, exciting, passionate life and i miss him very, very much. he died on thursday, he died very peacefully with his family around him. he was 91 years old. i think he probably put about 151 years of living into those 91 years. and he left a family that loved him, a state that he had served incredibly well, and staff members who really had their lives changed by their exposure to this remarkable, hard-driving, affectionate, bold man.
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here we are in washington as i close, and we are in a situation in which one party is holding the economic future of the country hostage in order to force changes that the american public doesn't want, wouldn't vote for, wouldn't accept if they were consulted, but by virtue of having a -- in effect a gun to the head of the economy, they want to force these things. like killing off the medicare program. americans are wildly opposed to that in huge, huge numbers. when they found out that that was in the house republican budget, they rejected it by 4-1 margins. and the response to that was to bring back something called cap, cut and balance, which had hidden beneath the slogan and even -- an even worse cut
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to medicare. they didn't learn from the lesson that the public didn't want this. they insisted on doing even worse. and doing it by holding the economy hostage. that is the kind of thing that governor sundlun would not accept. he was first and foremost a patriot, and as hard as he worked and as as much as he challenged everyone around him, he always had the purpose of making america better, making america stronger, making rhode island better, making rhode island stronger, and building towards the future. he had incredible confidence. the notion of holding an economy hostage and threatening the well-being of people to force down their throats something they don't want would be completely alien to his patriotic character and it makes
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me miss him a lot as we're trapped in this today. the other party appears to be in large part action questioning to this -- acquiescing to this and governor sundlun's streak of determination to do the right thing is missed on the other side of the aisle as much as his patriotism and the desire to put the well-being of people first is missed on the first. 0 so he's a man whose life and accomplishments made a great difference in rhode island, and have great relevance and resonance even as we stand here today. as i said, i miss him very much. he was very important to me. and i wish we had his forceful, patriotic, buoyant, and determined spirit with us today. i thank the presiding officer
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and i yield the floor and i note 0 note. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. a mr. whitehouse: i ask the quorum equal be vitiated. i mentioned in the speech i gave on behalf of governor sundlun that i delivered at his funeral service i ask unanimous consent that my remarks at his funeral service be added at the end of my spoken remarks here on the floor as an addition to the record by unanimous consent. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: i yield the floor. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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objection. mr. sessions: mr. president, there are currently two bills headed for a vote to raise the debt ceiling and to reduce spending. one of those two bills from the house speaker boehner cuts about $1 trillion in spending and raises the debt ceiling by $1 trillion. until the end of the year, approximately. that's about how long it would take to run up another trillion dollars in debt. the other bill from senate majority leader reid cuts about $1 trillion and raises the debt
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ceiling about $3 trillion or past the 2012 election. this is because the president said emphatically just a few days ago at a press conference -- quote -- "the only bottom line i have is that we have to extend this debt ceiling through the next election, into 2013." so in a sense, it's really quite simple, speaker boehner's bill lives up to the principle that i thought we'd all agreed to, that every dollar in debt ceiling increase should be tied to a dollar reduction in spending. the spenders get an advantage since the spending reductions occur over ten years, whereas the debt ceiling increase would be immediate. but that's the kind of the principle we've been operating on.
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senator reid's bill is a hoax. it urges -- it uses washington gimmicks designed to make it look three times as large as it is. in reality, it hikes the debt ceiling $3 for every $1 in spending cuts over ten years. the house bill is 1-1. the senate bill, 3-1. we have demonstrated this exhaustively in a budget committee analysis. i don't think people would dispute it. the house approach -- one of t the -- the primary way this is accomplished is to count the reduction in spending over the war in iraq and afghanistan that's projected to occur and count -- it's already been projected to occur and count that as a spending cut. speaker boehner didn't do that. his would look a trillion dollars better also if he used those numbers. the house approach is honest,
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it's straightforward and achieves $1 in cuts for every $1 in debt ceiling increase. it allows us to return to the table in a few months to assess our progress, see what's happening in the economy and begin working toward the greater cuts that are needed. senator reid's bill relies on accounting tricks, takes the debt limit off the table until after the election, and exchanges a record $3 trillion in debt hike for only one-third as much in debt cuts. my colleagues on the other side of the aisle signed a letter vowing to defeat the boehner plan. i find this a little shocking, frankly, and surprising. is it the position of the senate democratic majority that $1 trillion in cuts over ten years is all we need to achieve between now and 2013?
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is it their view that a dollar in cuts for every dollar in debt limit increase is too steep? or is it a political effort to protect the president by pushing the debt limit ceiling past the next election, creating the highest increase in debt ceiling i think in history except for perhaps the one the super democratic majority in the senate slipped through during the passage of the health care bill. is this an election issue? that democrats would turn down an agreement on and put us in risk of financial disruption of our economy? so let's step back for a moment and look at the wider context. washington is often consumed by
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political fights and blame games. it can be hard to differentiate between facts and talking poin points, but i'd like to provide as honest an assessment as i request as to why we find ourselves in this unfortunate situation at the 11th hour. process. statutory legal process to arrive at a budget deal every single year. it's written into the law of the united states. the president is required to submit a budget by law each year and each chamber is required to pass one separately and then agree on one together. if the year had begun with a serious budget proposal from the president, we wouldn't be in this mess today. but he submitted a budget that would double our debt in ten years while he claimed it would
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not add to the debt. and he claimed it would cause us to live within our means. indeed, he had a substantial tax increase, a very real tax increase of significant amounts, but his spending increased even more than that. so there's a net total of the president's budget was to make the debt trajectory we are on not better but worse even with the tax increase. indeed, his budget next year that he submitted proposed a 10% increase for the education department, the energy department, the state department and even more for the transportation department. those double-digit increases at a time we were running the biggest deficits the nation has ever sustained? senate democrats have refused to pass, meanwhile, in this body even pass or bring up a budget in 820 days, two years.
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the majority leader said it would be foolish to pass a budget. foolish to not -- to -- not pass a budget? so these are facts. my colleagues that run the senate here have defied the law and sound policy all year long and now we're paying the price, a last-minute, take-it-or-leave-it panic vote. nobody yet knows what's going to be in the legislation finally because the rejection of any bill that seems to be out there at this time. if the white house or senate democrats had taken the budget process seriously last year, if they had presented a single credible plan to cut spending, we wouldn't be here at this 11th hour. indeed, our democratic colleagues have insisted on secret meetings that shielded
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them from making any of their budget plans public. that shielded them from any real votes on spending and debt, and those meetings have failed, it appears. democrats have campaigned and sought control and a majority in the senate and they chose in this time of fiscal crisis not to engage in the budget process in a serious way. in fact, they are apparently so determined to avoid the public budget process that the reid bill even includes language designed to circumvent the process for two more years. so you'll forgive me if i'm a little concerned by all these tax -- these attacks on the tea party. they didn't start this fire. they sounded the alarm. before the last election when democrats controlled both chambers of congress by
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substantial majorities, every conversation was about increasing spending. more, more, more. congress passed a stimulus bill, the largest single one-time expenditure ever passed by any congress or any nation in history. every penny of that borrowed. we were already hugely in debt. wwe're borrowing now 40 cents of every dollar. it passed and the congress also passed the president's massive new health care entitlement. it passed the president's request for extraordinary increases in discretionary spending, non-defense discretionary spending has gone up 24% in a time of record deficits in the last two years. we've added $4 trillion to our gross debt since the president took office. just in the time since the senate democrats last passed a
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budget, we've spent more than $ trillion. -- we've spent more than $7 trillion without a budget. these are the facts. but after the 2010 election and the emergence of the tea party and commonsense american people who knew better about what's going on in washington, we have finally begun to look at washington's spending problem. now, instead of just raising the debt ceiling with no spend cuts, as the white house initially and repeat edly demanded, we're talking about how to cut some spending. people in the tea party and those who share their concerns should not be the ones vilified. they're good, decent, patriotic americans whose only crime is rightly fearing for the future of their nation. are they wrong to be concerned when this congress spends money
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willy-nilly every day, 40 cents of it is borrowed? they know this is not right. that's the kind of message they've sent to us. we need to listen to it. the heart of america is speaking. the last point i'd like to make is about the issue of compromise. there's been suggestions that the republicans have simply been unwilling to budge from their position. but the boehner proposal represents only a small portion of the cuts the republicans have advocated and that they believe should be achieved, so this is truly a critical point and one the white house will not acknowledge. the house budget that they pas passed -- a long--term ten-year budget that would put us on a sound financial course in a
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responsible way -- cuts $6 trillion in comparison to the president's request. the toomey budget that the senate voted on cuts about $8 trillion. the house passed a plan which i cosponsored that not only cuts and caps spending but that requires the passage of a constitutional balanced budget amendment. in fact, all 47 republican senators have cosponsored a constitutional amendment to balance the budget. the $1 trillion in cuts that speaker boehner is asking for would be, indeed, a modest first step, an effort to compromise and reach a number that ha had a realistic chance of passing this body. but under his plan, we'll return to the table after that $1
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trillion and increase in debt ceiling has been used up. and this is far from the level of savings that i would like to see or the republican house would like to see. $1 trillion is a bitter pill for a lost those members who -- for a lot of those members who know that's not enough. the bondholders are telling us we need at least $4 trillion. that just reduces the crisis nature we're in. that would not come close to putting us on a path to a balanced budget over ten years. reducing deficits by $4 billion -- trillion over ten years when our deficits are going to increase by $9 trillion to $13 trillion over ten years obviously does not solve our debt crisis. but $1 trillion is even much smaller. that was a figure that was believed that this senate might
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accept, so the house members in order to avoid a debt crisis and a financial crisis over the debt ceiling is apparently working hard and maybe they'll send it over here. i don't know. they're working hard to try to do that. i think that's a reasonable compromise and a fair approach to this congress. so we're going to spend around $45 trillion over the next ten years. that will add as much as $13 trillion to the gross debt. it's clear that we've a lot more work to do. we're going to be fighting for cuts in spending bills, omnibus bills, continuing resolutions, and in every other place we can to impose fiscal discipline on this country. we must control spending. we must control and concu conque debt. the president says he wants a
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balanced approach. but a balance is not a tax hike. that bails out the big spenders who surged our spending with stimulus bills and surging 24% increases in discretionary spending. going to bail them out by raising taxes. we should never have run up that kind of spending. but balance is not a tax hike of that kind. creating real balance, the right balance, means shifting power away from washington, placing it in the safe hands of the american people. that's what the voters said last year when they gave a shellacking to the big spenders. that's what we should do now. that's what i'll be working for and i believe a lot of other people in the congress on bowgets sides of the aisle will -- on both sides of the aisle will be working for. i would thank the chair and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call: r: the
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senator from pennsylvania. mr. toomey: i ask unanimous consent the call of the quorum be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. toomey: thank you, madam president. last january, probably late in the month i think it was, it occurred to me that as we proceeded in the direction of approaching the statutory limit of our borrowing as a government that the discussion was becoming a little bit counterproductive in some respects. one in particular was this constant threat that we would default on the loans that we had taken out as a government, the bonds that were held by millions of americans and that that default would have cataclysmic
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repercussions. it occurred to me that this is an unproductive discussion, in part because no such default was ever going to happen. it certainly didn't need to happen. in the event that we didn't raise the debt limit upon reaching it or prior to that, we would have enough ongoing tax revenue to cover the debt service by many, many multiples. and so i introduced legislation that would clarify this and would take this risk off the table, try to provide some clarity to markets and to senior citizens who are savers and who have invested their savings in treasuries and to have a constructive and honest debate about what the implications really are of reaching the debt limit without raising it. so i introduced a bill that would instruct the treasury secretary to prioritize debt service in the event that we didn't raise the debt limit upon reaching it. unfortunately, the idea was dismissed by the administration. it was derided.
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it was castigated. it was described as reckless and irresponsible and unworkable. this idea of prioritizing the payments that we would make if we didn't raise the debt ceiling was really just dismissed out of hand. now we have two reports that have come out this week. one cites the fact that senior treasury officials have been calling around to big banks assuring them that in the event that we don't raise the debt ceiling, which we will hit within just a few days, treasury is assuring the banks that there will be no default, that they have got this covered, that they have taken care of this. the scheduled interest and principal payments on our bonds will occur as scheduled. well, it's nice that the administration is informing the banks of this. i think it would be nicer still if they would inform the american public and everybody who has such an important stake in ensuring that the u.s. government not default on its debt. that was the first report.
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the second report came out just last night. it has been confirmed today. that is that the treasury has, in fact, been working on a plan of the very nature that they have been deriding and denying for many months now, that they in fact have been developing and are continuing to refine a plan to prioritize the payments that will be made in the event that the debt limit is not raised by august 2. well, i'm glad that they have finally come to this conclusion. i wish that they had approached congress and worked with us constructively in the many months ago when i first suggested that we ought to have a plan b, but i'd say it's better late than never. but now i think that we really ought to get this plan, such as it is, exposed to the sunshine of public discourse. we ought to understand what this process will be, and congress ought to have a role in it. this is why i introduced an updated version of this bill last week. i have 33 senate cosponsors on
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the bill, and the purpose of the bill is not to be a substitute for raising the debt limit. i understand that if we don't raise the debt limit close to august 2, the results would be very disruptive. we can minimize that disruption if we have a game plan, and we ought to work this out. the bill that i introduced with a number of colleagues is a bill that identifies three very high priorities, that we ought to make sure we make these payments whether or not we raise the debt ceiling. we know we'll have enough money to do so, and i just think we have got an obligation to do that. the three categories that are embodied in our bill are, one, interest on our debt. by making sure we make those payments, we avoid a catastrophic default and we avoid the financial consequences which could be very dire. so that ought to be one of the top priorities. a second equally important is making sure that we send out all the social security checks, in
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full, on time to everybody who has one coming. senior citizens all across america, including my parents, depend on social security checks and they have earned those benefits by virtue of the contributions that they made into that system, in many cases for many decades. the third and final item that i think ought to be prioritized in the event that we don't raise the debt ceiling by august 2 is salaries paid to active duty military. i just think the men and women who are risking their lives for all of us deserve to have the peace of mind of knowing that their families back home will not have to wait until congress gets its act together for them to get their paycheck in arrears. it ought to be done on time. so these three items, if you add them all up and you look at the amount that they would cost during the month of august and you compare that, compare that to the tax revenue that's going to come in the door in august, these three expenses are less than half the amount of tax
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revenue that's going to come in. so clearly and obviously this is easily manageable or easily affordable, i should say. technically, the treasury and the fed, they have some work to do no doubt to make sure this is all done smoothly. this is precisely why they should have engaged with us a long time ago, so we could have had a constructive period of time to work out whatever details are necessary so that we would have as smooth a functioning process as possible, one that would have the benefit of a transparent debate. i will acknowledge that there might be other items that ought to be added to the list and we ought to have a debate on this floor and consider those items. what we would end up with is a process that the american people would understand, they would know, they could anticipate, and it would be far more constructive. now, it's getting late in the day but maybe it's not too late, and i hope that -- that this body will take up my bill and that we'll have that debate, we'll have some kind of resolution and we'll provide some guidance. i think it is part of our
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constitutional obligation to have control over spending that occurs in our government, and this should be no exception. so i would urge my colleagues to join in supporting this legislation, and if you have constructive suggestions of how we can make them better, i would welcome them just as i would welcome working with the treasury and the administration to make sure that we -- in the unfortunate event, if it should occur, that we don't raise the debt ceiling by august 2, we do everything we can to minimize the disruption that will follow. and i yield the floor. mr. durbin: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: madam president, in 1939, we passed a law, and the law created a debt ceiling. before that law was passed, whenever the government of the united states of america wanted to borrow money, it had to come to congress. congress had to approve it, the
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president would sign it. we decided then to change it. instead, we said congress will approve a certain amount of money that the president can borrow, and we'll change it as needed. in other words, we don't have to approve every single bond issue, every single borrowing of the federal government. 1939, that's what we did. since then, on 89 different occasions, presidents of the united states have come to congress and said the money that you spent i have to borrow to cover. we don't have enough in the treasury. 89 different times presidents have come and asked for the authority to borrow money to cover expenses that congress had approved. 55 times republican presidents, 34 times democratic presidents. not once, not once did we ever default. oh, there was a period i think
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in 1979 where there was a few days of technical default but never any conscious decision by congress not to fund this debt ceiling and extend it. it is ironic that members of the senate have come to the floor here and said i will never vote to extend the debt ceiling as long as i serve in the united states senate. they are the same members of the senate who have been voting for and sending to this president requests to spend money. an example, the war in afghanistan. some of the most conservative senators on the other side of the aisle not only want us to wage this war but to stay there and keep spending money. know what it costs? it costs $10 billion a month for us to protect our troops in afghanistan. for every dollar that we spend, every dollar that we spend, whether it's on the war, on food stamps, on missiles, on
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highways, for every dollar we spend we borrow 40 cents. we shouldn't be borrowing all this money, but we do because congress says there are certain things we've got to do as a nation. many of the same senators who have said to the president of the united states don't withdraw the troops from afghanistan, keep them there even longer, are now coming to the floor and saying to the president but we're not going to join in asking for the authority that you need to provide that money for those troops. now the senator from pennsylvania has come here the second day and given his take on what would happen if congress fails to extend the debt ceiling on august 2, five days away, august 2, what would happen. first, understand this is a self-inflicted wound. we have created this crisis. 89 times we have extended the debt ceiling without incident,
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both parties, both presidents of parties have asked for this over and over again. who holds the record for extending the debt ceiling the most during his eight-year presidency? ronald reagan. 18 times, 18 times, more than twice a year, he asked congress to extend the debt ceiling because under his eight-year watch the debt of the united states tripled. who holds the record, the second place on the list of increasing the national debt? president george w. bush, who came to us, i believe it was seven or nine times, asking to extend the debt ceiling. it's been done. by both parties, presidents of both parties. now there is this controversy that's ladies and gentlemenning between the house and senate about whether we extend the debt ceiling. it is a vote we've done customarily without this confrontation in the past. now we face it.
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but we have created this crisis. it is a self-up flicted wound -- self-up flicted wound. and to blame anybody else for it is just plain wrong. history tells us that congress not only has the authority but i believe has the responsibility to extend the debt ceiling. it is hypocritical to pass bills on the floor of the senate and is call on the president to wage a war or build a building and then not give the president the authority to do it. that's what i'm hearing from the other side. the senator from pennsylvania comes and says we can live with this default. we have to figure out how to manage this default. i think he said at up with point it could be managed easily. wrong. completely wrong. let me tell you what happens if we default on the national debt. for the first time in history. first, what does it do 0 the reputation of the united states of america? we have a credit report, too.
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i don't know if you can get a free credit report for the government, but we have one and we have aaa rating. pretty good, you huh? the best in the world, the strongest economy in the world and it means when we borrow money, we borrow at the lowest interest rate because pipe trust the united states ups to keep its word. if we say we're going to pay it back, we always have done it. we've never default. we're pretty trustworthy as a debtor and creditors understand that and charge us the lowest interest rates. now if this goes through as promised by the tea party people and we default on our national debt for the first time in history, what do you think it's going to do to our credit status? i can tell you what it's going to do. it's going to diminish our credit reputation in the eyes of lenders. what happens when lenders think it's riskier to loan money? they raise interest rates. in other words, the money we borrow to sustain our government
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will cost us more. how much more? for every 1% increase in interest paid by our government on our debt, it costs us $130 billion a year. added to the debt. that's not $130 billion worth of money for education or $130 billion worth of money to protect us from terrorism. that's $130 billion to international bankers and countries that loan us money from this self-inflicted wound. and what else will happen? sadly, when interest rates on our federal government go up, interest rates go up across our economy. it affects every family, every individual, every business in america. it affects how much you pay on your credit card bill, how much you pay for an automobile loan, a home loan, a student loan, all of these are affected. it is as bad if not worse than a
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tax because it hits everybody. and it couldn't come at a worse time. when our economy is struggling to create jobs with millions out of work, to think that this unnecessary, manufactured political crisis, self-inflicted wound is going to hurt our economy and its recovery is just plain wrong. let me go to the specific point made by the senator from pennsylvania. stay tuned and listen to what he just said. he said to us he has asked our government to tell us how they would manage a default. who would you pay? who would you fail to pay? and the government hasn't been forthcoming, the president, with a plan on who will be paid and not paid. well, we'll get that plan and we won't like it one bit. and here's why -- if we don't extend our debt ceiling in the month of august, here are the raw numbers we have to work with. we will have $172 billion on
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hand in our treasury to spend in august, and we will have obligations of $306 billion. so what do you do when you have 55% of what you need? you make choices. the senator from pennsylvania said here are my three choices. first, we pay interest on other debts that we have so we don't default on everything. that's sensible. secondly, he said we pay social security because these folks, many of them have no other source of income. that's sensible, too. and then he said we ought to pay our troops in combat and military. i vote for that, too. these men and women are risking their lives and they should be our highest priority and he said we can talk about the rest. what's the rest? what is the rest? i'll tell you what the rest includes. it includes every medicare payment to every hospital and
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doctor in america. it includes every payment to a disabled veteran in america. it includes the decision as to whether or not we are going to fund federal employees and if they aren't your favorite class of people, i happen to think a lot of them but many people don't, keep in mind some of the things that they do that we'll have to decide whether or not we should continue doing. i was at the greenville federal correctional facility two weeks ago. the men and women risking their lives holding people in prison, thousands of them across the united states, pay them or not? they weren't on the list. they weren't on the the senator from festival's list. just had a meeting -- pennsylvania's list. just had a meeting talking about weather satellites, warning people when severe weather patterns are developing and should we pay noaa to maintain those satellites in orbit or not? as you go through this list whether you're talking about the f.b.i. fighting terrorism, whether you're talking about the
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men and women representing the united states in embassies around the world, whether you're talking about law enforcement, whether you're talking about the intelligence agencies of the united states who watch on a minute-by-minute basis the activities of terrorists who would kill us, they weren't on the list from the senator from pennsylvania. he didn't put those on the list. and if we get down to a choice and if it becomes that terrible a choice, understand this president, no president wants to face that. and they don't have to. it is time for us to get this resolved. when i call radio shows back in illinois -- and i'll bet you, madam president, you get the same thing back in missouri -- people are fed up with what they see going on in washington here. they cannot believe that grownups in the house and senate paid to do this job are failing, that they're dragging
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this out. yesterday i got an email from a businessman in chicago. he's a friend. he has a lot of businesses. he's got loot of people working for him. he had had a closing yesterday on a deal worth more than $100 million to renovate a major building in chicago. it would have been a lot of jobs. it would have been great for our city. the closing was canceled. the parties at the table said until congress gets this figured out, we're not going to close this deal. he sent me an email and said for god's sake, when is this going to come to an end? and i'm hearing that all over, from people who are just fed up with it. "the chicago tribune" printed an article today entitled across the state businesses fret over debt ceiling shutdown and they went -- showdown. and they went through a long list of individuals that talk about what this stalemate miert mean. ed weimer worried that a
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prolonged stalemate could lead to a double-dip recession, even more unemployment. he went on to say the possibility of not getting a government check will make people skittish, that would weaken consumer spending and hamper economic growth, higher interest rates, he said, would hit an already stressed real estate market, a banker in lake forest said could you imagine if we ran our business like that, referring to what's going on here in washington. these are the people who make the regulations we have to live with. the hospital association figures its members will have to be a seizure $8 billion in federal pavement reductions over 10 years as a result of the 2010 health care action. now they're bracing for another blow. we're concerned any additional cuts to hospitals whether through medicare, medicaid, will have a dramatic impact on hospitals and health care providers. the illinois finance authority. all of these groups look at this situation and say this makes our
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economy even worse. it is a self-inflicted, politically manufactured problem. it is a crisis which does not have to exist. should we ignore our debt? of course not. madam president, you know that i've worked on this issue for a year and a half now with more specificity than ever in my career. i was on the deficit commission the president appointed, then i stuck around afterwards as six senators, a group of six we called ourselves, wasn't very inspired name but that's what it came up with, three democrats and three republicans. and we sat down for six months and hammered out an agreement among us to reduce our federal deficit by $4 trillion over the next 10 years with a balanced approach that puts everything on the table. everything. revenue, entitlements, spending, everything. we came to an agreement. we presented our agreement to the senators, just two weeks
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ago. 49 senators showed up at that meeting, democrats and republicans. it was amazing. and then we followed up and said are you ready to put your name on the bottom line, will you support moving forward with this bipartisan way to deal with the deficit in a responsible way that doesn't endanger our economy and make us face bankruptcy as a nation? we now have 36 senators, democrats and republicans, who have signed up. that's a pretty good number. it shows that this just isn't an idea that we came up with that doesn't have legs. sure, we're going to have to change it. we understand that. but look what happened here. democrats and republicans sat down, no cameras, no reporters, and worked out a reasonable way to deal with the deficit and our nation's debt. what's better, lurching from this crisis to another crisis six months from now as speaker boehner suggests or dealing with this in an honest, bipartisan
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way today? madam president, i can tell you what the american people want us to do, at least i think i know what they want us to do. they don't want to us endanger this economic recovery. they don't want us to kill jobs. they don't want us to hurt businesses. they want to us help this economy recover and create jobs. they want us to extend this debt ceiling so we don't see interest rates going up across america at exactly the wrong time. they certainly don't want to see us put in a position where we have to decide between paying social security recipients and our soldiers who are in combat. that's what the administration would face if this crisis that has been manufactured on capitol hill continues. what they expect us to do is to earn our pay as members of the house and senate, to work hard to come up with a reasonable approach and to be willing to give a little. it's the only way you reach a compromise. compromise is the nature of this political process. and those who condemn it -- and there are some who do, say
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never give up, stick to your principles, never change. we're not going to get a solution. we've got to be willing to work together to give and get this done. now, here's what i predict is going to happen soon. i predict speaker boehner is going to call his bill on the floor of the house. we have told him in advance it is a nonstarter here. if it passes the house, it will come here and likely be voted down. we will then propose an alternative. majority leader harry reid has an alternative which basically extends the debt ceiling beyond next year so our economy has a time to recover. it cuts spending by over $2 trillion so that we address our deficit. and it does it with a list of spending cuts that every republican has voted for, so it's not controversial in substance. i think that's the best approach. it creates a joint committee to
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deal with the long-term deficit, and i've been involved with those and i think we should. and i think it's a good, balanced approach that solves our problem and gets us through this crisis. we're likely to vote on it either tomorrow or the next day. but we're down to five days. we're running out of time. we have got to get this done. and i want to just tell you any senator who comes to the floor and says defaulting on our debt and reaching the first point in our history where the credit reputation of the united states is in doubt is okay. it's a good political tactic. they don't understand the gravity of that decision and the impact it will have on businesses and families for generations to come. and this notion that we can pick and choose the checks we're going to send out in august and we're going to have 55 or 60% of what we need is going to put us in an impossible position, deciding among all the valuable, important functions of government which ones will not
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be funded, that's an impossible position for this president to be in. we can't do that to him. we can't do this to our government. we can't do this to our country. i hope that after the house votes today or tonight, whenever it may be, that we take up the measure quickly. let's move this forward. let's get this done. let's avoid this crisis. let's meet the responsibility we were elected to face. madam president, i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: re in a
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quorum call? the presiding officer: that's correct. mr. pryor: i would ask that that be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. pryor: and i also understand that we are in morning business and senators
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are allowed to speak for up to ten minutes. the presiding officer: that's correct. mr. pryor: i will take less than that, i madam president, bt thank you for recognizing me. the presiding officer: the senator is recognized. mr. pryor: abraham lincoln has said "a house divided against itself cannot stand." with these few words link exon is calling for us through the echoing halls of history. he is calling for us to put aside our differences and to become unified into one people, one nation, one common purpose. mr. lincoln recognized that the issue of slavery was tearing this great nation apart and that it could not survive a half slave and half free. slavery was the great unfinished business of our founders. the institution of slavery was so ingrained in the infant country's pastage future that
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even washington, adarnlings madison and franklin could not disentangle it. madam president, i am not trying to equate carrying too much debt to slavery. please understand that. but the truth remains: a house divided against itself cannot stand. this house, this nation, this republic is divided against itself. our founders called their effort to establish a new nation a great experiment. and it has been. nothing like it had ever been tried in america, has been on equaled success in all of world history. truly, we are the envy of the world. we began a 13-week and barely united states but quickly became the strongest country in the western hemisphere. about 70 years after we adopted the constitution, we survived a deadly civil war. american influence grew as we became the agent of democracy
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and capitalism for the entire world. although our military power was slow to develop, we fought on the winning side of two world wars and grew into an economic and military and cultural superpower. we are a nation of immigrants, of many faiths, of many races and our national call to union is e pluribus unum, out of many one. out of many states is forged one nation. out of many races is forged one people. out of many one. the founding fathers had to balance the agrarian interests of the south and the west with the industrial and shipping interests of the north and the east. they balanced small states and big states, they balanced regions dominated by the frontier with regions dominated by the old world. they balanced catholicism and
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protestantism and judaism. they balanced english culture with german culture with french culture. out of many one. had previous generations of leaders not achieved oneness, we would not be, could not be the great nation we are today. the senate was added to the constitution as a compromise. washington, d.c., was placed on the banks of the potomac as a compromise. states were added to the union as a result of compromise. in this sense, america's ability to find compromise has always been our pathway to greatness. our founders established this more perfect union with a clea cleareyed knowledge that a house divided against itself cannot stand. division leads to failure. to make our democracy work, we all must work together. we must acknowledge that we have
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differences of opinion and differing points of view, but we must commit to unit chism the floor of the united states senate is the marketplace for ideas, and it is a window into democracy that is a liflg testimony to the greatness and diversity of our nation. the floor of the united states senate should not be a graveyard for ideas or innovation or promise. campaigns should stop at the threshold of this chamber. what happens in this chamber is much greater than any single senator's political fortunes and it is much more important than a political party's fate at the next general election. we have a sacred responsibility to the people, through the constitution, and if we orient ourselves to the next presidential election, we are failing in our duty. the united states senate, at its core, by its nature, is where decisions get made. we have our ideological battles
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here. that is certain. but this is where consensus should be achieved. the senate should fuel the engine that propels us to a better future, not stall that engine. all americans should fully participate in our government. we should register to vote and serve on the jury. we must volunteer on the schools and pay our taxes. we must teach our children about our country -- their country and prepared them for their time to leevment we must tell them that our system of government is the best that man ever devised understand that it works. it works very well if we allow it to work. this moment in history is a day where we can show our children as well as our founding fathers that this is no longer a house divided. we can show the world that our parents instilled in us the
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value of e pluribus unum. america's best days lay ahead, and if we are mutually committed to the future, it is, however, not possible unless we set aside our differences and work together for that common goal. my fellow senators, please heed the words of abram had a lincoln and understand that there is truth in what he said. "a house divided against itself cannot stand." madam president, i yield the floor. mr. bingaman: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from new mexico is recognized. mr. bingaman: i thank the president. let me speak for just a few minutes about the disappointment i have and i'm sure many other colleagues have with the situation we find ourselves in with respect to the partial shutdown of the federal aviation administration.
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my colleague from colorado, senator bennett, was on the senate floor this afternoon and spoke eloquently about how this partial shutdown is affecting his state of colorado, and i i wanted to just talk briefly about the similar concerns i've got from my state of new mexico. frankly, some in this congress in my view have lost sight of what they are -- they were elected to do here in washington. aviation is a critical piece of our transportation infrastructure, a critical piece -- part of our economy, and yet for nearly a week now the congress has failed to extend the necessary authorizations to keep the federal aviation administration doing the work that needs to be done. it's been over five months since the senate passed its reauthorization bill for aviation programs. that vote was overwhelming.
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it was 87-8. so this was not a partisan bill. this was a bill supported strongly by democrats and by republicans. the bill included a number of programs important to my state of new mexico and to the entire nation, including the airport improvement program that provides grants for construction of runways, taxiways, that helped to make airport safer. these projects also create hundreds of jobs in the construction industry in my state and thousands -- tens of thousands of jobs in the construction industry nationwide. in my view, one of the most important features of the senate's bill relates to our air traffic control system. our current system is universally recognized as being antiquated, inefficient, and increasingly it is recognized as
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being unsafe. the bill that we passed out of the senate dramatically accelerates the f.a.a.'s efforts to convert the air traffic control system to one that's based on satellites and global positioning systems similar to the g.p.s. that many of us have in cars. when implemented, nextgen, the name that's been given to this improvement of the air traffic control system, it will improve safety, increase the efficiency of orpses, will reduce dlairks save fuel, and will help to reduce greenhouse gases. so thanks to the good work that chairman rockefeller and ranking member hutchison in the commerce committee did, the senate passed a good bill to reauthorize aviation programs. that was in february. then in april the house passed its own version nearly on a
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party manufacture linparty-line. the house majority unfortunately chose to include divisive provisions in that legislation that were not appropriate in an aviation bill. let me just give a little description of what that -- those partisan and divisive provisions i'm referring to are. there was an editorial in "the new york times" this morning that summed it up pretty well. it says "last year the national mediation board changed the rule to make it easier for airline and railroad workers to unionize. until then, workers who did not vote in union representation elections were counted o as no votes.votes. "after the change, those vitd whose did not vote were counted as absentees. pushed by the airline lobby,
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house republicans passed a long-term f.a.a. reauthorization in april that would have undone the rule change. the senate reauthorization bill passed in february maintained the rule and left the issue alone. in spite of this difference in the two bills, the senate did appoint conferees, did begin working to resolve differences, as we should have, and working out the required compromise is never easy. unfortunately, now the house has decided that in order to gain leverage over the senate to accept the house anti-union provisionprovisions that there t be any additional clean extensions of existing law. we have had 20 extensions of existing law to just keep the federal aviation administration operating while the house and
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senate negotiate the final resolution of this larger bill. so, unfortunately, the situation now is that the congress's failure to the end the authorization one more time has shut down important aviation programs across the country. 4,000 f.a.a. employees have been if yofurloughed, forced to go wt pay. across the nation, important airport improvement projects are now on hold. in my state of new mexico, $26 million in funding for over two dozen projects has been stopped. these include a new firetruck for the airport in roswell, runway projects in raton and santa rosa, snow removal equipment in clayton and vaughan, in santa fe work on a vital new radar system has been stopped, and in albuquerque progress is stopped on a $10 million project to replace the
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airport parking apron. but particularly troubling to me is that the authority to collect the ticket tax has also been suspended, and why should this matter? well, this is the money that goes into the airport trust fund and allows us to continue to make improvements and maintain our airport infrastructure around the country. this is funding used to pay for safety and infrastructure projects in my state and everywhere in the country. as i understand it, it amounts to about $30,000 a day being lost from that trust fund, at a time when we're being told that the country is falling behind in its investments in basic infrastructure, this lost funding is clearly going to have major impacts on airport projects down the road. people also need to realize that the fact that the f.a.a. is no
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longer able to collect the ticket tax does not mean that people don't have to pay the full price that they would be paying if the tax were being charged. the airlines, with very few exceptions, have announced that they're going to continue to charge the full price for tickets and just pocket the extra money themselves instead of turning it over for infrastructure projects at our airports. so here we are. it's simply, in my view unacceptable for the congress not to restore to the f.a.a. the authority to collect airline ticket taxes and to resume normal operations. senator rockefeller introduced a clean extension of the aviation programs. whatever differences there are between the two bodies in provisions in the short-term extension are trivial compared to this $30 million a day that the nation is losing in funding for our nation's airport
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projects. we are all here in the senate and in the congress and really in the country focused on the need to extend the debt limit, and this is the most urgent need we face. but in addition to that, we need to restore to the f.a.a. the authority to resume its normal operations and to resume payment into the -- payments into the airport trust fund. to leave for an august break without having fixed this f.a.a. lack of authorization problem as well would be seriously irresponsible. madam president, let me ask unanimous consent that the editorial in this morning's "new york times" entitled "this is called small government" be included in the record following my remarks. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. bingaman: madam president,
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i yield the floor. the presiding officer: thank you. the senator from wyoming is recognized. mr. barrasso: thank you, madam president. i followed my colleague who talked about the need to prevent default, the need we have and why we are here and why we'll have a vote in the house tonight and a vote in the senate as well and it has to do with our nation to prevent default and also our need to cut spending. our problem is that we spend too much. americans all around the country are calling in to members of the hess and saying -- calling in to members of the house and senate and saying let's get things under control and cut the spending. my friends on the other side of the aisle, i'm happy to see with proposals being brought forth understand what my constituents from wyoming have known from the very beginning. americans are not taxed too little. washington spends too much.
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now, the president seems to be more concerned about the next election than about the next generation of americans. i was just astonished last week when the president was addressing the nation, and he talked about what his bottom line was in this whole debate and the whole discussion. he said -- and i quote -- "the only bottom line" -- this is the president of the united states saying, "the only bottom line i have is that we have to extend this debt ceiling through the next election." the president of the united states, "the only bottom line i have is that we have to extend this debt ceiling through the next election into 2013." madam president, since 1962 the debt ceiling has been raised 74 times. on average the debt ceiling is raised on an average about every eight months. but now the president and folks on the other side are calling for the largest debt ceiling
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increase in history and it's designed to last a lot longer than just eight months. almost for a year and a half, as the president wants to go into 2013, and specifically, as he said, through the next election. his treasury secretary has essentially said the same thing when he said -- quote -- "we have to lift this threat of default from the economy for the next 18 months." he said, "through the election." well, if the president and the secretary get their way, they will be able to ignore the single-biggest threat to our national security until after the next election, and the national security isn't a threat as the chairman and the joint chiefs of staff said. the greatest threat to our national security is the debt. the president could have gotten what he wanted last week, which is an increase in the debt ceiling beyond the election,
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when the house passed cut, cap, and balance. i was one of the original cosponsors in the senate in favor of it, support it and continue to support it. instead the president issued a veto threat and told democrats in the senate to kill it. after all, it's still a majority party. now the senate democrats, i believe, tonight will have the power to save our country's finances once again, and they can do that by passing the boehner plan. pass it through this body and send it to the president's desk for him to sign. instead the majority leader has said no democrat, not one, will support this plan. here's what the president wants, raises the debt ceiling. as a nation, it avoids default but doesn't take it beyond election. it's interesting, it would seem support by the democrats for this plan would clearly signal
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their desire to continue working to rein in washington's wasteful spending, to get our fiscal house in order. it doesn't seem to be the signal that the president wants to send. the boehner plan is the only plan currently on the table that can get through the house of representatives and protect us from default. republicans have put forward plan after plan. democrats, the white house has done nothing but criticize from the sidelines. the white house press secretary has even said that -- quote -- "leadership is not proposing a plan for the sake of having it voted up or down and likely voted down." is what he said. he said now the democrats have sent a letter asking for a long-term debt increase. but how can we have a long-term debt increase if no plan to get to? the white house press secretary claimed recently that the president's plan is well known. this is what he said today. he said "there is no plan that has been offered certainly in the last several months about
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which more detail is known." i say where are the details? i'd like to know how i could get this well-known plan and share it with my constituents back home in wyoming. how did the c.b.o. score this plan that, according to the president's press secretary, is a plan to which there has been so much detail known. where is it? what's the c.b.o. score? where's the text of it? how can we actually read it? how can we bring it here and discuss it and debate it? these things don't exist, c.b.o. score or a text, because the white house has continually refused to release a plan even with pleas coming from congress and from the media. i can understand why the president may be reluctant since the time he last brought a budget to this body, it was defeated 97-0. not one democrat voted in
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support of what the president had proposed. not one. no one supported the president's budget plan. there is a reid plan being proposed. and according to the congressional budget office, the reid plan cuts about $2.2 trillion from our budget over the next ten years. but if you dig a little deeper, you find that these so-called cuts are really accounting gimmicks. the house budget committee looked at the reid plan, and their assessment was not very flattering, and i'll quote. "reid's plan relies on the knack rat -- inaccurate assumption that surge-level spending in iraq and afghanistan is scheduled to continue over the next decade." no one in america, and i would hope no one in the white house, believes that surge-level spending in iraq and afghanistan is scheduled to continue over the next decade. but the plan endorsed by the president of the united states
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relies on such an inaccurate assumption. why is he trying to mislead the american people? well, the democrats are claiming to save money by cutting spending that was never ever going to be spent in the first place. and this is the strongest possible proof that the white house is not realistically dealing with this situation and does not, in my opinion, appear to be serious about really and reliably cutting the debt. in fact, even if you assume the reid plan would work, it wouldn't cut spending fast enough to keep up with the spending that the president is doing. the president wants to borrow at least $2.4 trillion to get him through the election, to get him into 2013. but the last draft of the floor plan that we're going to be asked to discussed cuts $2.2 trillion over ten years while raising the debt ceiling by $2.7 trillion. it would take over a decade to
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pay back what this president wants to borrow over just the next year and a half. so we're still borrowing at a much higher rate than we are cutting. this is not responsible leadership. responsible leadership, madam president, would be to recognize the solution to our country's financial woes. that solution is to avoid default while consistently cutting spending and balancing our books the way the families do. that solution would require us to keep working until we get it right. now, this is the theory at the heart of speaker boehner's plan. the president talks about wanting a balanced approach -- mr. reid: madam president? the presiding officer: the majority leader is recognized. will the senator yield? mr. barrasso: yes. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent that morning business be extended until 7:00 p.m. and senators be permed to speak for -- permitted to speak for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without
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objection, so ordered. mr. reid: i ask my friend's statement appear uninterrupted in the record and i appreciate his courtesies. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. reid: the only modification is that at 7:00 p.m. i be recognized. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. the senator from wyoming. mr. barrasso: thank you, madam president. as i was saying, the solution requires us to work together until we get it right. this is the theory at the heart of speaker boehner's plan. the president talks about wanting a balanced approach. what that means to different people is different things. when that means in -- when the president is talking, he wants more taxes, i think what americans want is actually a balanced budget. speaker boehner will bring us one step closer to the, to that balance by forcing a vote on the balanced budget amendment to the constitution. and i look forward to voting for a balanced budget amendment to the constitution.
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we live under a constitution in the state of wyoming where from the beginning we have balanced our budget and as a result have excess money, have scholarships available to all students to study in wyoming at our universities, community colleges, because year after year we live within our means. the president talks a bit about public opinion being important in this debate, but he's opposed to a balanced budget constitutional amendment. in a recent mason-dixon poll, 65% of americans say they support a balanced budget constitutional amendment. so where is the respect for that public opinion? the boehner plan works because its authors have listened to the american people. the white house refuses to seriously confront the problems facing our nation. democrats are trying to shut down the only plan that can pass the house and save us from default. i'm alarmed at their denial about how to solve these problems. the president must not veto america into default. it is time that we pass a real
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plan that cuts spending, avoids default. we don't need to wait until midnight on august 1 or august 2. we can do it and should do it today. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from west virginia is recognized. mr. manchin: madam president, i rise today to speak about the tough fiscal choices this body, this government and our president now face. but before i say anything else,
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i would like to start off with a profound apology. i want to apologize to every west virginian and all americans for the terrible process they have been made to endure witness. with five days before the august 2 deadline to raise the debt ceiling, this government faces yet another crisis of its own making. and yet, it is not we who pay the price for our failures to govern. it is the american people. to the tens of millions of american families who work hard to take care of their families, i can only imagine the anger and disgust they have at witnessing a broken government and a president and members of congress who can't seem to even agree sometimes on what day it is, yet alone to solve the nation's debt crisis. madam president, the american people deserve better. now, some will say that washington is broken, and that is the best that we can do, but i do not believe that for one moment. washington may be broken but it
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will not break me, and you should not let it break you either. i came here to fix things, not to make things worse. i came to solve problems, not to ignore them. i came here to worry about the next generation, not my next election. i for one am willing to make the tough and painful decisions that will improve the lives of every west virginian and all americans for generations to come. regardless of what it means for my party or for the next election, and i know i'm not alone. madam president, after our beloved senator byrd passed away, i chose to run for the u.s. senate for one simple reason. i saw the great challenges that our nation faced, the exploding debts and deficits our nation's energy dependence, costly wars in afghanistan and iraq and our painful jobs and economic crisis, and i wanted to help make things better by bringing a little common sense from washington. i knew we had to focus on
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rebuilding america and in doing so making hard, difficult political choices. now some of my colleagues ought to remind me that fixing problems as complex as our debt crisis isn't easy, but with all due respect, it seems like we make it harder than it really needs to be. my friends, it doesn't need to be this way. i did not come to washington with the illusion that i could reinvent the wheel, but i did come to think that i could help balance the wheels and make the car run a little smoother. months ago when i said that i would not vote to raise the debt ceiling without a long-term fix, i really thought that this congress and our president would be able to tackle the issue head on and have it done by now. as i made clear on that day, the choices we make to address our debt now will determine whether the vital programs that we all deeply care about -- social security, medicare, medicaid, our veterans' programs, education for our children, head start -- are there for those in need and for the decades to
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come. however, instead of coming together months ago to focus and deal with the gravity of our debt, we delay and we continue to delegate, but i will never question someone's motivation of their heart. we all have a right to question the strategy of our leaders and colleagues, whether they are democrats or republicans, because these strategies have once again led us to a crisis and the brink of a disaster. at a minimum, this entire process has once again fed a growing public cynicism that is corrosive to the very fab rib of our government, and we all bear the responsibility for that. madam president, i truly believe that we can do better. i know this to be true because we proved it in west virginia. when i first became governor of the great state of west virginia, our state faced similar gray -- grave fiscal concerns. after facing dismal credit ratings for far too long and a
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dark fiscal future, some thought our nation's best days were behind us, but after confronting our fiscal challenges head on in west virginia, even during the deepest recession in our lifetimes, we are one of the few states in the nation that has had its credit rating upgradeed the last three years in a row. we had surpluses for six years in a row during the toughest times. we did this in west virginia by cutting spending but not cutting the vital programs or services that we hold so dear. we did this not by raising tax rates but by ensuring that everyone paid their fair share in our state. we did this by tackling waste, fraud and abuse so as to ensure that we took care of those most in need, not those bent on greed. and by doing this, we helped to restore confidence to the economy of our state, and that is a factor that we can't overestimate. west virginia may be a small
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state but these are commonsense solutions that i strongly believe can apply right here. i do not blame these fiscal challenges that we had in our state on the mistakes made by past governors or legislators whether they were democrats or republicans. i reached out to all members of our legislature whether they were on the front row or the so-called back row, and i met with them and anyone who had an idea on how we best could solve our fiscal problems. it required sacrifice, it required patience, but it required trust and respect. now, can anyone honestly say that all that has taken place here? in fact, if we turn on cable news right now, we'll see exactly where this broken process stands. we as democrats sometimes are rushing out to attack our colleagues, the republicans, and the republicans are rushing out to attack us, the democrats. and, madam president, we are better than this, and for the
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sake of this nation's future, we must do better. i owe it to all west virginians and we all owe it to this great nation to do much better than we have, and from time to time we should remind ourselves that we took an oath to do just that. as idealistic as it may sound, i implore this great body, each member, the leaders of both bodies, the president, the two parties and especially the political committees to put away their political knives and swords and let us do something that has become rare in washington. put aside the political attacks for a few months and actually work together, openly, honestly with respect for our profound differences and build a trust that will fix the big problems that we face as a nation. madam president, the stakes are too high to do anything else. our nation faces not only a threat of default but of a downgrade. the credit rating agencies like
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standard and poor's have made it clear that the united states needs to cut nearly $4 trillion over the next decade or they will lose the confidence in our long-term ability to pay our bills. yet in my estimation, neither of the two plans, neither one that are currently proposed by both the republicans and democrats and our leadership comes close to preventing our nation from being downgraded or actually solving the debt crisis we face. each falls far short, whether it's in time or dollars. the truth is both of the plans being discussed and that the senate may consider, one offered by the leader of the republican party, speaker john boehner, and the other offered by the leader of our chamber here and my party, senator reid, do not really solve the nation's long-term fiscal problems as presented. make no mistake, i have the utmost respect for both of these fine public servants. both find themselves in difficult positions, and i know they are trying their best to do what is right. and i understand the desire to
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prevent our nation's default, but what we have before us are effectively a short-term fix and a shorter term fix. either one might prevent a default, which is a good thing, but neither may prevent a credit downgrade, which is a terrible thing. to me, it doesn't matter if it's a republican proposal or democrat proposal, but including including $1.2 trillion in savings from the wars that we should not be fighting as savings just doesn't really make sense. saying that we will save money that we haven't even budgeted or spent is like saying that because your family bought a a $20,000 car instead of a a $50,000 car, you saved saved $30,000. it's even worse when you consider we couldn't afford to buy any car in the first place. most of the american people understand that, and i know in west virginia they do. as for speaker boehner's plan, his was supposed to save save $1.2 trillion, but the
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congressional budget office took a look and determined it would save only $917 billion. so instead of fixing our problem, it kicks the can down the road to 2012, which will be an election year, and if you think this process is ugly now, you ain't seen anything yet. as these two proposals currently stand, i cannot in good conscience support either one of them unless they include a pathway for a long-term debt fix. while it's true that our nation will suffer if we only enact a short-term deal we will suffer much more if we fail to fix our greatest fiscal problems. we must solve our nation's problems now, not in 2012 and certainly not in 2013. this is not just my opinion. as many rating agencies have warned and economists have predicted, every year that goes by, the options to -- on how to fix our looming debt crisis will become worse and worse. if we are being honest, neither
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of these proposals as they stand today can prevent a credit rating agency's downgrade, an event that would be just as catastrophic or maybe even worse than default. because i personally know a government's climb back from a low credit rating is extremely long and painful. to be clear, a downgrade in our creditworthiness could lead to selloff of stocks, treasury securities and u.s. dollars. gold prices could rise even higher and interest rates could increase across the board, which would not only have a devastating impact on consumers, small businesses and local governments but would make the price of financing our nation's debt even more costly. at a minimum, the shock to our nation's confidence from our first-ever downgrade could prove more costly than we could even fathom. madam president, we can't let this happen. for our sake -- for the sake of our nation's future, we must come to a compromise that acknowledges that a long-term
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debt fix is needed and our spending is out of control and that raising tax rates, whether it's the rich, the middle class and most especially even the poor won't cure our spending problems, but we must also come to a compromise that acknowledges that tax reform is not the same as raising taxes and that there is something morally wrong when a large corporation like go pays zero in federal taxes while small businesses or a middle-class family pays more. we must also come to a compromise that finally acknowledges that we simply can't fight three wars for years to come while we cut services here at home and we choose to keep taxes low. i have said this before, but it's so important. if i have to choose between rebuilding america and rebuilding afghanistan, i choose america. so with the clock ticking toward default, what can we do?
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madam president, as part of any deal to raise the debt ceiling, i would respectfully encourage leaders in the senate and the house, our president, to find common ground by committee to a guaranteed vote on a long-term fix. otherwise, as i said months ago, i simply cannot support a short-term deal that is just a little better than the shorter term deal. with all due respect to my colleagues, i will not look west virginians in the eye and say don't worry, all is good. i saved myself for the 2012 election, but you're on your own. a vote on such a long-term debt fix, i would hope, could come within the next 90 days or a reasonable period of time so as to prevent what i fear the most -- a downgrade of our nation's credit rating. i believe such a vote on a long-term fix is possible because many good people have already worked hard to put together the framework and pieces of what such a long-term fix could look like. already we have seen two promising commonsense proposals
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from bipartisan groups. the bowles-simpson debt commission which presented its report nearly nine months ago and a similar framework that was presented last week by the bipartisan gang of six. in fact, the day the gang of six announced their proposed framework was one of my better and prouder days as a senator. for the first time since i have been in the senate, i saw democratic and republican senators almost equally divided come together to put politics aside and agree to the principles of a commonsense solution that recognizes the urgency of fixing our long-term problems. no plan is perfect, no plan will be. no plan will please all and no plan can, but within these two plans, i believe lies the path our nation can take if we are to get our fiscal house in order. of course, some will have other ideas, whether from the right or
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whether from the left, and we should listen to them all, but i would ask each of us and all the groups who undoubtedly will be mobilized to stop any fix to think hard about what will happen to our great nation if we fail to do nothing. what will happen to the programs we cherish like social security and medicare for all of those people who depend on that for their only means of livelihood? what will happen to our nation's defense and to our tax rates? what will happen to the people who are truly in need? what will happen to our seniors, our veterans and our children if we choose to do little or nothing at all? finally, as the negotiations for this long-term fix proceed, i would hope that we can all remember that if we are to negotiate in good faith, we must have faith in each other. we cannot turn a fair compromise to into the enemy, and we can't